First-third awards – NL Cy Young

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With Johan Santana coming back to the pack lately, the NL currently has nine starters with ERA between 2.00 and 2.70.

1. Johan Santana – 2.00 ERA in 72 IP
2. Wandy Rodriguez – 2.26 ERA in 67 2/3 IP
3. Matt Cain – 2.31 ERA in 66 1/3 IP
4. Dan Haren – 2.42 ERA in 78 IP
5. Johnny Cueto – 2.43 ERA in 74 IP
6. Jair Jurrjens – 2.59 ERA in 66 IP
7. Chad Billingsley – 2.59 ERA in 80 IP
8. Zach Duke – 2.62 ERA in 79 IP
9. Josh Johnson – 2.66 ERA in 74 1/3 IP

No one else is under 3.00 and there aren’t any relievers on pace for 60
saves, so let’s label the above as the nine legitimate candidates.

First off, I like looking at unearned runs and defense. Santana and
Rodriguez have both given up seven unearned runs apiece, while no one
else on the list had allowed more than two. Haren is the only one in
the group yet to give up an earned run.

On to the gloves. Duke is being helped out by the game’s second most efficient defense to date.
Billingsley’s defense is third, while Cueto’s is ranked fifth. On the
other side, the Mets are 19th, the Astros 25th, the Giants 18th and the
Diamondbacks 22nd.

With additional factors, such as bullpen support and ballpark, being weighed, VORP still has an identical top nine NL starters, but ranks them in a vastly different order.

1. Dan Haren – 29.0
2. Johnny Cueto – 26.4
3. Chad Billingsley – 25.4
4. Zach Duke – 24.6
5. Matt Cain – 24.3
6. Josh Johnson – 23.1
7. Johan Santana – 22.4
8. Jair Jurrjens – 21.8
9. Wandy Rodriguez – 19.1

I’m not a big fan of VORP, but I think it comes up with a very good
list here. Santana was the NL’s best pitcher for six weeks and he’d
probably be my Cy Young pick for the rest of the season, but he doesn’t
deserve the top spot right now.

First third NL Cy Young

1. Haren
2. Billingsley
3. Cueto

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.