Kansas City Royals star and reigning American League Cy Young winner Zack Greinke just completed a stellar month of April in which he held hitters to a .239 batting average, struck out 27 dudes in 31 innings, and posted a tidy 2.56 ERA. Only problem? Fella's winless because both his run support (three runs per game) and bullpen support (relievers' ERA in Zack's starts is over 15.00) is non-existent.
Meanwhile, across the great divide, San Francisco Giants stud and reigning National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum outdid his counterpart by holding hitters to a .181 average, striking out 43 guys in 35 innings, and delivering a microscopic 1.27 ERA. Thanks to unusually high run support (six runs per game) and, until yesterday, typical bullpen help, Lincecum finished the month with four wins against zero losses.
Now, small sample sizes aside, it's fair to say both of these guys are performing at the top of their games. Both do well in striking out many, walking few, and minimizing tater tots. But what chance does Greinke have to repeat his Cy Young win in 2010 if his Royals teammates continue to piss on his pitchers mound every five days? After both guys won top honors last year with win totals in the teens, displaying a sea change among voters away from traditional stats and towards sabermetric stats, could 2010 be the first year a starting pitcher wins the Cy Young with a losing record?
In a word: probablynotthatseemshighlyunlikely. Greinke's numbers, while typical for an ace, have fallen somewhat since last year. His home run rate has doubled from 0.43 per 9 to 0.85 per 9 while his K rate has fallen by almost two per nine innings. Hitters are making more contact at pitches in and out of the strike zone this year. His odds of winning games 1-0 or 2-1 this year are slimmer. Chances are we'll be debating Frenchy Liriano, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez at the end of the season for top AL honors. Only time will tell if Greinke can keep his name in the discussion.