Halladay has inside track to Cy Young

Roy Halladay

Today’s Trivia: The St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (18-10, 2.38 ERA), who pitches tonight, and the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay (18-10, 2.44 ERA) have a good chance at 20 wins and an ERA below 2.50. Can you name the last National League pitcher with both of those qualifications who did not win the Cy Young?

On Monday, we took a peek at the American League Cy Young contenders. Today it’s the National League’s turn.

• There are currently four NL pitchers with an ERA below 2.50. The last time that happened was 1998. In three of the previous four seasons, there wasn’t one.

• It would not be unrealistic for Halladay to reach all of the following milestones: 20 wins, 250 innings, 200 strikeouts and an ERA below 2.50. Since 1975, only seven pitchers have done that. All won the Cy Young.

• Though wins and losses are certainly not great indicators of a pitcher’s effectiveness, the fact remains that they are key components in the minds of many voters. So too are losses. Consider that of the last 32 Cy Young winners in both leagues, only Pat Hentgen in 1996 had 10 or more losses.

Adam Wainwright

• Wainwright and Halladay both have 18 wins and an ERA under 2.50. Both also have double-digit losses. So how does 18-6 with a 2.30 ERA sound? Well, that’s what Josh Johnson could be if the Florida Marlins bullpen hadn’t blown seven of his wins this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most in the majors.

• Both Wainwright and Halladay should probably have 20 wins already. Each has only two no-decisions, but all four of them should have been wins. Wainwright has a 0.62 ERA in his two no-decisions, while Halladay’s is 1.17. Amazingly, Johan Santana has a 2.10 ERA in nine no-decisions.

• At 18-6, the Colorado Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez leads the NL in winning percentage (.750), though he is just 3-5 since the All-Star break. However, the last four pitchers with at least 18 wins and six or fewer losses have won the Cy Young. The last to miss out was Mark Prior is 2003, a year in which closer Eric Gagne won the award.

• Will the stretch run eliminate the Cardinals’ candidates? Over the last month, Chris Carpenter has a 3.96 ERA, while Wainwright checks in at 4.50. Similarly, Jimenez is just 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA despite Colorado’s surge. Meanwhile, Halladay is 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA.

• In 2008, Tim Lincecum had the lowest opponent OPS in the majors. He did so again last year. Both seasons brought home the Cy Young. So who is it in 2010? Mat Latos’ .561 opponent OPS ties Lincecum’s 2009 number for the lowest by a qualifying starter since Roger Clemens (.544) in 2005. Clemens finished third that year with Chris Carpenter winning.

Most National League Starts
At Least 7 IP and 2 ER or Fewer

• Carpenter leads the NL with 24 quality starts, but five pitchers are just one behind. However, if you make the qualifications seven innings and two earned runs of fewer, a clearer picture emerges. Halladay has 18 such starts, while no other pitcher has 16.

Key Matchups: The Colorado Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez has nine career hits against the San Diego Padres' Jon Garland, three more than he has against any other pitcher. In fact, six of those nine hits are doubles. That means he has as many doubles off of Garland as he has hits off any other pitcher. He doesn’t have more than two doubles off any other pitcher. In his last eight at-bats against Garland, “CarGo” has four doubles and a single.

Facing a must-win series against the Minnesota Twins, the Chicago White Sox send John Danks to the mound. Though he leads the team with 13 wins, the White Sox are just 2-6 in his last eight starts. The lefty will have to contend with Michael Cuddyer on Tuesday. He’s hit .467 against Danks with five home runs in 45 at-bats. That’s two more home runs than he has against any other pitcher. However, all five came last season, as Danks has kept him in the park in all 15 at-bats this season.

Trivia Answer: The last five NL pitchers with at least 20 wins and an ERA below 2.50 have won the Cy Young. The last to come up short was David Cone in 1988, despite a 20-3 record and 2.22 ERA. Of course, the man he lost out to, Orel Hershiser, also had those marks with a 23-8 record and 2.26 ERA.