- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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Some recent performances of Cy Young candidates:
Johnny Cueto, Reds: Eight runs and 17 hits over 11 innings in his past two outings.
Aroldis Chapman, Reds: Four hits and three runs allowed on Friday, including a game-losing home run to Matt Dominguez of the Astros, raising his ERA to 1.61, his losses to five and his blown saves to five.
Justin Verlander, Tigers: In his past three starts, has had six-run and eight-run outings, raising his ERA from 2.50 to 2.91.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners: Has lost his past two starts, giving up 11 runs and 20 hits over 12 innings.
David Price, Rays: Missed Friday's start with shoulder stiffness. Scheduled to throw a side session on Tuesday and will maybe start this weekend against the Yankees.
Jered Weaver, Angels: Battling a sore shoulder and has just one win in his past five starts.
Chris Sale, White Sox: Beat the Royals on Saturday but lost his previous two starts, allowing four runs each outing.
Anyway, one guy holding his consistency has been R.A. Dickey, who is 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA over his past four starts and has passed Cueto as the NL ERA leader while ranking just behind Clayton Kershaw in innings and strikeouts. Kershaw has a 1.97 ERA over his past eight starts but his 12-8 record compared to Dickey's 18-4 is a strike against him. (Yes, we all know wins don't matter, but in an otherwise close race, they probably will.)
While Dickey has probably re-emerged as the NL favorite, it remains a crowded field: Braves closer Craig Kimbrel (1-1, 1.18 ERA, 35 saves) and Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez (18-7, 2.98) are in the mix alongside Dickey, Cueto, Chapman and Kershaw.
The AL race isn't any more clear. Verlander and Sale lead in WAR, but Verlander's 13-8 record won't blow away the voters and Sale has pitched a lot fewer innings than some of the other leading contenders. Nobody seems to be talking about Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, but he's 2-2 with 42 saves and a 0.69 ERA.
You know my opinion on closers for the Cy Young, but Rodney has a chance to pass Dennis Eckersley for the lowest ERA for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched. Eck had a 0.61 ERA over 73.1 innings with the A's in 1990. He allowed nine runs and five earned runs -- Rodney's exact totals so far in 65.1 innings. So if Rodney can pitch 8.1 scoreless innings (or at least allow no earned runs), he'll pass Eckersley. And that will throw him in the Cy Young mix.