Roy Halladay of the Phillies, who led the league in wins, threw a perfect game and followed that up with a no-hitter in his first postseason start, a 4-0 win over the Reds in Game 1 of the Division Series. Unfortunately for Halladay, all ballots were cast at season's end, so that game will not help his cause. And in a field as deep as this year's, every little bit might count.
Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals was second in the league in wins and ERA, and two-time defending NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum of the Giants totaled the most strikeouts.
Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez put together a career season, featuring a first no-hitter, and was among the league leaders in wins, strikeouts and ERA. At midseason, he looked liked a no-brainer for the Cy Young, having raced out to a 15-1 record with a 2.20 ERA by the All-Star break.
All four pitchers have made strong cases for the award, which has gone to a pitcher in the NL West in each of the previous four seasons and nine of the past 11. The winner will be announced at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Halladay, a 21-game winner who earned the AL Cy Young in 2003 while with Toronto, and Wainwright, who won 20, were the only 20-game winners in the NL, posting nearly identical ERAs in 33 starts. But Halladay, who led the Majors with nine complete games, including four shutouts, threw 20 1/3 more innings than Wainwright.
Lincecum won 16 games and was 19th in the league with a 3.43 ERA, but he was still one of the most feared pitchers in the game and finished with a flourish. He would be the first pitcher to win three consecutive NL Cy Young Awards since Randy Johnson won four in a row with Arizona from 1999-2002.
Here's a breakdown of the leading candidates:
The case for: Led the league in wins, complete games and shutouts, was second in strikeouts and third in ERA.
The case against: Allowed 24 home runs, more than Jimenez (10), Wainwright (15) and Lincecum (18).
The case for: Ranked third in the league in wins and strikeouts, and he threw a no-hitter against the Braves.
The case against: After a stellar first half, Jimenez went 4-7 with a 3.80 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break.
The case for: Finished second in the NL in wins and ERA and fourth in strikeouts.
The case against: Fell off after the All-Star break, posting a 7-6 record in 14 second-half starts.
The case for: The NL strikeout leader was 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in September to lead the Giants to a division title.
The case against: Went 2-5 with a 5.17 ERA in nine starts from July 15-Aug. 27.
Others worth consideration: Josh Johnson, RHP, Marlins; Tim Hudson, RHP, Braves; Chris Carpenter, RHP, Cardinals; Brian Wilson, RHP, Giants.
Now, it's your turn. In the Year of the Pitcher, who was the NL's best pitcher? It difficult to ignore Halladay's across-the-board dominance, but Jimenez and Wainwright put up numbers worthy of serious consideration. Lincecum started 5-0 and finished 5-1 to put himself in the thick of the discussion. Who would be first on your ballot?
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.