AL Cy Young race shaping up to be great 

August, 2, 2011
8/02/11
8:11
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Justin Verlander/CC SabathiaMLB Photos/Getty ImagesAlong with Jered Weaver, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia lead a fascinating Cy Young race.
I watched a lot of CC Sabathia's 3-2 victory over the White Sox, and it was evident early in the game that he didn't have his best stuff. But as he has done time and time again this year, he battled and worked his way through hitters, and he continues to be part of what appears to be one of the greatest races for the Cy Young Award we have ever seen.

Sabathia is 16-5, with a 2.55 ERA. Justin Verlander is 15-5, 2.24, and Jered Weaver is 14-5, 1.88.

Besides being dominant, all three are among the greatest plow horses in the majors. Their current rank among all pitchers in innings:

1. Verlander 181

2. Sabathia 176.2

3. Weaver 167.2

Their current rank in WHIP:

1. Verlander 0.87

3. Weaver, 0.94

22. Sabathia 1.22

Strikeouts:

1. Verlander 178

3. Sabathia 162

11. Weaver 142



Opponents' OPS:

1. Verlander .524

3. Weaver .538

8. Sabathia .590

Overall defensive independent ERA (DIPS):

4. Sabathia 2.75

6. Weaver 2.87

7. Verlander 2.87

From FanGraphs.com, their AL rankings in xFIP:

1. Verlander 2.94

2. Sabathia 3.03

39. Weaver 3.58

WAR (AL rankings):

1. Sabathia 5.8

3. Verlander 5.5

4. Weaver 5.1

Josh Beckett has a 2.17 ERA, but he has thrown about 35-45 fewer innings and this has a major impact on his overall body of work, so he's a few long strides behind Verlander, Weaver and Sabathia.

Notables


• The Diamondbacks are within a game of first place in the NL West after beating the Giants in San Francisco on Monday behind Ian Kennedy; Paul Goldschmidt mashed a single in his first major league at-bat. Jason Marquis and Brad Ziegler joined the D-backs, as Nick Piecoro writes.

Carlos Beltran and Orlando Cabrera made their debut as Giants in AT&T Park, but San Francisco lost again.

Freddy Sanchez is out for the year, and Barry Zito was placed on the disabled list. Carl Steward says a polygraph machine might rattle and hum if Zito were hooked up and asked to address his injury.

Heath Bell has made it clear that he loves pitching in San Diego, and as the Padres got closer to the trade deadline without a suitable deal, they kicked around the idea of signing Bell to a multiyear deal.

But now that the deadline has passed and Bell is still with San Diego, the Padres are in a tough spot. They had wanted to get what they thought was the equivalent, in value, of two draft picks -- which is what they would get if they offered Bell arbitration after the season and he signed elsewhere as a free agent.

But if offered arbitration, Bell might simply accept it because he could stay with the Padres and make a killing, something in the range of the $12 million that Jonathan Papelbon makes. For a small-market team such as San Diego, that would take up a huge portion of the payroll.

So, to review, these are the Padres' options:

1. They could sign Bell to a multiyear deal, something the Padres really hadn't planned on at the outset of the season. Typically, small-market teams won't make investments in their closer.

2. They could wait to see who claims Bell on waivers this month and then work out a trade, with less leverage than they had before the July 31 trade deadline.

3. They could keep him through the regular season and offer him arbitration -- with the high risk, from the organization's standpoint, that Bell would accept.

4. They could keep him through the regular season and offer him arbitration -- and hope that some team dangles a major multiyear deal.

Bell says he intends to play for the Padres next year.

• The Brewers got a boost from a fifth-inning rally in the first game of their showdown series against St. Louis. Ron Roenicke likes the versatility of his offense. The Cardinals are now 3.5 games out of first, their biggest deficit since the beginning of April.

• The Yankees had expected that a front-line starting pitcher would emerge during the summer, but it never happened because of a very weak market in starting pitching. And so New York will go into the offseason with its group of touted prospects intact -- Dellin Betances, Manuel Banuelos, Jesus Montero, etc. -- and club officials console themselves with the thought that they remain in tremendous position to take a run at the next elite starting pitcher to emerge in the trade market.

[+] EnlargeJered Weaver
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesThe Yankees could make a run at signing Jered Weaver.
Someday, that could be Felix Hernandez. Or Clayton Kershaw, depending on what happens with the Dodgers' ownership. And 15 months from now, Jered Weaver -- a Scott Boras client -- will be eligible for free agency, and, given his age -- he'll be 30 when he hits the market -- it figures the Yankees will take a hard run at the right-hander. The Yankees will have a quandary about picking a Game 2 starter in the playoffs this year, but they believe that, at some point in the next 15 months, they'll be in position to upgrade their rotation significantly.

Kershaw is the King Felix of the National League, and he won again Monday night, racking up a complete game against the Padres. From ESPN Stats & Information, how he beat the Padres:

A) Kershaw's slider was the go-to pitch once again, accounting for one-third of Kershaw's total pitches (36 of 108). The Padres went 1-for-9 with four strikeouts in at-bats ending with a slider. In five of Kershaw past six starts, he has allowed either zero hits or one hit with the slider.



B) The left-hander went upstairs a lot less in this start than in his previous start in which he allowed three hits (62 last previous start, 33 on Monday). But on Monday, he was much more successful as the Padres went 0-for-7 with a strikeout.

C) The Padres got five hits with the bases empty, but were 1-for-12 against Kershaw with men on base. That one hit came in the second inning of a scoreless game.

• The Pirates' handling of the trade deadline was proportional. The organization has taken a big step forward this year, and so, for the first time in Neal Huntington's tenure as general manager, he was a buyer before the deadline. And in the end, he wound up with both Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick, two veterans who may or may not help the Pirates -- and to get them, Pittsburgh gave up very little. The team probably has very modest chances of winning the division, and the Pirates made modest upgrades rather than pay more for better players.

Lee homered twice on Monday, but the Pirates lost -- again.

From ESPN Stats & Info, some perspective on Pittsburgh's recent play:

The Pirates' feel-good season has come to a crashing halt as they have lost six of their past seven. The streak started with their 19-inning loss to the Braves, one of three extra-inning losses in the stretch. Entering that game, the Pirates were tied for first place. Now they sit 5.5 games back in the division, their largest deficit since June 12.

Dings and dents


1. Stephen Strasburg is likely to make his first rehab start in the next 10 days, as Adam Kilgore writes.

2. Cliff Pennington has Bell's palsy, writes Susan Slusser.

3. Clay Buchholz looks to be done for the season. Erik Bedard will get the ball on Thursday.

4. Scott Linebrink landed on the disabled list.

Moves, deals and decisions


1. Ubaldo Jimenez will make his first start for the Indians on Friday.

2. Brett Lawrie will probably make his major league debut soon, writes Mike Rutsey.

3. The Pirates cut Lyle Overbay.

4. Andrew McCutchen was moved into the leadoff spot.

5. The Orioles' deals could leave Baltimore without a shot at Prince Fielder.

6. The Royals could be busier than ever in the weeks ahead, writes Bob Dutton.

Monday's games


1. John Mayberry Jr. was "the man" for the Philadelphia Phillies.

2. The Indians won, with a lot of help from Asdrubal Cabrera.

3. Rick Ankiel had a really good day.

4. Jhoulys Chacin threw well, but Huston Street gave up a tying homer in the ninth.

Street has given up the most home runs this season among relievers, with 10. Jason Berken, Ryan Franklin and Guillermo Mota have all allowed 9.

5. John Lackey got pounded.

6. The struggles of Trevor Cahill continue.

7. The White Sox lost and didn't execute well offensively. Adam Dunn leads the American League with the most three-strikeout games, with 18. The next-highest total is nine, posted by Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn.

8. Mike Stanton hoisted the Marlins. Leo Nunez dedicated his 30-save season to his late father.

9. Michael Bourn got a hit in his first at-bat with Atlanta, but the Braves lost ground, as Carroll Rogers writes.

The Patience Index