Alphabetically, it's a choice between Roy Halladay, Ian Kennedy, Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee. In the National League Cy Young Award balloting that will take place in less than two weeks, those four present one of the toughest choices in years.
Kershaw is in position to win the NL's Triple Crown of pitching: wins (19, tied with Kennedy), ERA (2.30) and strikeouts (236). Usually that would be good enough. But the Dodgers are under .500. Maybe Felix Hernandez's 2010 American League Cy Young for the last-place Mariners is a hopeful sign for Kershaw, who also has a considerably lower opponents' batting average (.207) than the other contenders.
Halladay and Lee have lived up to expectations in putting the Phillies on pace to have the winningest season in franchise history. Halladay is 18-5 with a 2.34 ERA and leads NL pitchers with a 7.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). He won the 2010 NL Cy Young, so one could take the approach that it is his to lose. Lee, the 2008 American League Cy winner, is 16-7 with a 2.38 ERA after a near-shutout (and no-decision) against the Marlins on Thursday, when he struck out 12 and walked none over nine innings in a game Philadelphia won in 10. But one wonders if the two Phillies might cancel each other out on the ballot.
Kennedy is symbolic of the D-backs' surprising NL West runaway. In only his second full Major League season, and having gone 9-10 last year, no one could have imagined he would be 19-4 with a 2.99 ERA and be leading Arizona toward a probable division clincher. He won seven consecutive starts from July 8-Aug. 12 and is 11-1 in his past 13 starts, during which time his ERA is 2.42.
Today's question: Who should win the NL Cy Young Award?