In my third look at the Cy Young races, interleague play causes havoc on the NL hopefuls while a new contender emerges in the American League, though the question remains if he'll remain in the American League much longer.
Despite holding on to the top spot over the last three weeks, Price feels like an underwhelming front-runner. That's as much
Pettitte's ugly outing against the Dodgers on Sunday night was just the third of his 15 starts this season in which he allowed more than two earned runs and just the second in which he allowed more than four. In the six starts prior to that, the 38-year-old lefty averaged 7 1/3 innings per start while posting a 2.25 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, and 4.11 K/BB. Like Price, Pettitte is succeeding despite relatively unimpressive peripherals thanks in large part to a .273 opponents average on balls in play and, as I mentioned
While pitchers such as Price, Pettitte, and
Lester has been the best pitcher in the American League over his last dozen starts (8-1, 1.98 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 2.83 K/BB), but his first three outings this season were so bad (8.44 ERA) that it took his complete-game victory over the Giants on Sunday to get his ERA below 3.00. Lester has allowed one or no runs in nine of those last dozens starts and struck out seven or more men eight times. On pace for 234 strikeouts with a sinking ERA, he's poised to take advantage should Pettitte or Price experience any significant correction.
The major league strikeout leader with 118, Weaver made
It seems we've finally found Jimenez's Achilles heel: facing American League teams at Coors Field. Two of Jimenez's last three starts came at home against the Blue Jays and Red Sox. In those two games, the only two in which he has given up more than two runs all season, he allowed a total of nine runs in just 11 2/3 innings (6.94 ERA). In his other 13 starts this season, Jimenez has allowed just 10 runs in 95 1/3 innings (0.94 ERA). Fortunately for Jimenez, interleague play is over.
From May 13 through June 20, Johnson allowed one or no runs in eight consecutive starts, the third-longest such streak in major league history behind
Like Jimenez, Halladay's bugaboo has also been interleague play. Of the four starts in which Halladay has allowed three or more earned runs this season, three of them have come against American League teams. That might seem strange given Halladay's dominance in the American League East for most of the last decade, but it speaks to the gap between the two leagues. Halladay has a 1.51 ERA against NL opponents this year, while his best single-season mark as a Blue Jay was 2.41 in his injury-shortened 2005. His best full-season ERA prior to this year is the 2.78 he posted in 2008. Halladay's six losses this season seem like a lot for a pitcher this high on this list, but, again, he's only allowed more than two earned runs in a game four times. Contrary to expectations, he has received little run support from the defending NL champions, who have scored more than three runs in just five of Halladay's 16 starts. Halladay has three losses in his last four starts, and the slumping Phillies have scored a total of just four runs in those three games.
Wainwright's worst start of the season was his last which -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- came in an interleague contest against the Blue Jays. Prior to that four-inning, five-run dud, he had lasted a minimum of six innings in each of his first 15 starts and surrendered as many as four runs just twice, never allowing more. Even in that game against the Blue Jays, just four of those five runs were earned. Wainwright has five losses in part because he has taken the loss each of the three times he has allowed more than three runs in a game. His other two losses ended in scores of 2-0 and 1-0.
Carpenter has completed a minimum of six innings in each of his 16 starts this season and has allowed more than three runs in just four of them. His consistency and reliability give him his first appearance on this list, edging out Brewers ace