Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 5/12/12

Welcome to the first Cy Young Watch in the 2012 baseball season. Last season, the award was taken by Justin Verlander in the A.L. and Clayton Kershaw in the N.L. There has not been a repeat Cy Young winner since Randy Johnson won four straight in Arizona from 1999-2002. Unlike the MVP, the Cy Young is given to the most dominating pitcher even if his team has a sub par season. We’ve seen in that in recent years when the award was given to Zach Greinke of the Kansas City Royals and Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners. That makes the field wide open. Here are my early contenders, as of May 11th:

American League.

1) Jered Weaver, LAA, 5-0, 1.60 ERA, 9 BB-47 K.
2) Justin Verlander, DET, 3-1, 2.63 ERA, 11 BB-48 K.
3) CC Sabathia, NYY, 5-0, 3.51 ERA, 10 BB-53 K.
4) Jake Peavy, CWS, 4-1, 1.84 ERA, 7 BB-44 K.
5) Felix Hernandez, SEA, 3-2, 2.29 ERA, 16 BB-58 K.
6) Yu Darvish, TEX, 5-1, 2.84 ERA, 24 BB-51 K.
7) James Shields, TB, 5-1, 3.23 ERA, 15 BB-43 K.
8. Jason Hammel, BAL, 4-1, 2.09 ERA, 11 BB-38 K.
9) Jim Johnson, BAL, 10-10 SV, 0.61 ERA, 4 BB-12 K.
10) Fernando Rodney, 9-9 SV, 0.57 ERA, 2 BB-14 K.

What has Jered Weaver done this season? He’s kept his team, the Angels, afloat after getting off to a sluggish start by going 5-0 in his seven starts. He also owns a no-hitter, no hitting the Twins on May 2nd. Jered Weaver finished second to Verlander last season, and he’s done enough so far to put himself in the early lead. No. 2-5 in our May Rankings (Verlander, Sabathia, Peavy, and Hernandez) have all won a Cy Young award in their career. This should be a tight race down to the end. Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney have been impressive closing for their respective teams, and they could make a push for Cy Young if they can keep putting up eye-popping numbers. Both relievers are perfect in save opportunities on the season, and they both have ERAs under one.

Stephen Strasburg is my early favorite for the N.L. Cy Young award, slightly edging out Lance Lynn and Johnny Cueto.

National League.

1) Stephen Strasburg, WAS, 3-0, 1.64 ERA, 10 BB-51 K.
2) Lance Lynn, STL, 6-0, 1.40 ERA, 11 BB-37 K.
3) Johnny Cueto, CIN, 4-0, 1.12 ERA, 8 BB-31 K.
4) Gio Gonzalez, WAS, 4-1, 1.94, 17 BB-50 K.
5) Matt Cain, SF, 1-2, 2.38 ERA, 7 BB-40 K.
6) Cole Hamels, PHI, 4-1, 2.45 ERA, 6 BB-44 K.
7) Chris Capuano, LAD, 5-0, 2.06 ERA, 15 BB-39 K.
8. Ryan Dempster, CHC, 0-1, 1.02 ERA, 10 BB-36 K.
9) Brandon Beachy, ATL, 3-1, 1.62 ERA, 10 BB-27 K.
10) Brett Myers, HOU, 9-9 SV, 0.77 ERA, 1 BB-7 K.

It’s definitely close, but I feel Strasburg has had the best start of a N.L pitcher to the season. Strasburg’s strong start has powered the Washington Nationals to a surprising first place position in the N.L. East. The interesting thing about Strasburg is it has been widely discussed that the Nationals have him on an inning count for the season. He has stiff competition, though. Lance Lynn, in his first full season as a starter, has won his first six starts. Johnny Cueto has a microscopic ERA (1.12), and Strasburg’s own teammate, Gio Gonzalez, has only struck out one less batter while compiling more wins. Unlike the A.L. race, no one in my first top 10 for the N.L. has won a Cy Young Award. Although he finished outside my first top 10, Clayton Kershaw is far from out of the race going 2-1 in seven starts with a 2.56 ERA.

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