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NL Cy Young Watch: Still Clayton Kershaw's to lose

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

The 2013 NL Cy Young all but belongs to this guy. (USATSI)
The 2013 NL Cy Young all but belongs to this guy. (USATSI)

MORE AWARDS WATCH: NL MVP | AL MVP

Let's hop back into our Awards Watch series and check in on the current status of the National League Cy Young race.

Before we run down the leading candidates, please keep in mind that these are predictions based on the season to date and not statements of who deserves to win. In other words, the driver here is how we think the BBWAA will vote for NL Cy Young when the time comes. Of course, there's still time for things to change ...

[Players listed alphabetically within categories]

Front-runner(s)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw hasn't been his usual self over the last two starts (seven runs allowed over his last 10 2/3), but his lead is comfortable enough to allow for plenty of decline. That's because the overall numbers remain tremendous. Specifically, Kershaw leads the majors in ERA (1.89), ERA+ (187) and WHIP and for good measure paces the NL in innings, strikeouts and shutouts. This simply isn't a close race at the moment, and there's little time for it to become a close race.

In the mix

No one's seriously in the mix besides Kershaw at this point. Moving on!

Fading away

Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
Corbin's got a sub-3.00 ERA to his credit and, for those who find appeal in such things, a 13-5 record. However, he's been roughed up his last two times out (10 1/3 IP, 14 R). When you're working from this far behind, there's no room for that. On a broader level, Corbin's second-half ERA is more than two runs higher than his first-half mark. Voters, of course, prefer a strong finish to a strong start.

Jose Fernandez, Marlins
The 21-year-old right-hander has crafted a truly brilliant rookie season (168 ERA+ across 26 starts), but the team has already announced that Fernandez has just two starts and 12 total innings remaining. Given that the Marlins are playing for nothing more than draft slotting, that's a sensible approach, but it means Fernandez won't have the body of work to compete with the guy at the top of this list.

Matt Harvey, Mets
Harvey is of course shut down for the remainder of the season with a partially torn UCL, and he'll make a decision on Tommy John surgery in the coming days. His 2013, age-24 season will always stand as a great one -- 2.27 ERA, 158 ERA+, 6.16 K/BB ratio -- but he won't have the innings load to compare to Kershaw and others.

Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
While Kershaw has been something less than his usual self over his last two outings, Wainwright has been utterly disastrous over that same span: 8 IP, 17 H, 15 R, 3 HR. His 2013 numbers remain solid (116 ERA+ in 206 2/3 innings), but he's no longer in the same league as Kershaw.

Dark horse(s)

Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies
We all know what a ridiculously bad environment for pitchers Coors Field is, and Chacin, despite having pitched the large majority of his 2013 innings there (99 1/3 at home versus 70 on the road), has thrived. Specifically, he's pitched to a 3.16 ERA and somehow allowed just seven home runs all season. He absolutely deserves some down-ballot support.

Craig Kimbrel, Braves
Closers are generally an unknown quantity when it comes to Cy Young voting, but Kimbrel's dominance is such that he might get some support. Regard: In 2013, he has a sub-1.00 ERA, hasn't given up an unearned run all season, has converted 94 percent of his save opportunities and has struck out 37.6 percent of opposing hitters. That hardly seems fair. Kimbrel's career ERA of 1.32 (!) also doesn't seem fair.

 
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