Despite missing a handful of starts due to injury, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw seems to remain the favorite to win National League Cy Young Award honors this season. With a 17-3 record and league-leading 1.70 ERA it's hard to argue otherwise.
However, one pitcher nipping at his heels for the coveted award is none other than Reds ace Johnny Cueto. According to ESPN's Cy Young Predictor, which uses a complex formula based on past results to predict the future winner, Cueto ranks second in the league behind Kershaw with a CYP total of 162.1.
For those of you skeptical about the reliability of the Cy Young Predictor, it's notable to point out that it has correctly chosen the real winner for both leagues in each of the past three seasons. The last time it was flawed was in 2010 when Seattle's Felix Hernandez somewhat surprisingly won the award with a 13-12 record.
Aside from the CYP, Cueto's case to become the first Cincinnati Reds pitcher in franchise history to win the Cy Young Award is very strong. Entering play on Thursday, the right-hander led the league in innings pitched (207), and ranked second in ERA (2.26), WHIP (0.97), wins (16), WAR (5.5) and strikeouts (205). The biggest factor keeping Cueto from possibly winning the award, aside from the dominance of Kershaw, is the fact that every other pitcher among the conversation is on a playoff contending team.
It's not out of the realm of possibility for Cueto to win the hardware. But he's likely going to have to be even better than he has been in the five months leading up to September to overcome the likes of Kershaw and others. I know I'll be rooting for him to do just that.