Big League Stew - MLB

There was a time when we thought the Dodgers would win the NL West by the start of September, the Cubs would back into a messy NL Central title and that the AL Cy Young race would be a two-horse race between Zack and Roy.

Needless to say, there's a reason why they play the rest of the schedule. The Dodgers have been challenged by the Rockies, the Cubs have absolutely collapsed and the AL Cy Young is now completely up for grabs.

Here are the top three contenders, as I currently see 'em:

Zack Greinke(notes), Kansas City Royals  12-8, 2.43 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 197 Ks

It was unlikely that Greinke would maintain the ethereal numbers from early in the season, but Greinke's candidacy has seemingly taken a hit because the rest of the Royals simply don't have his back. However, if you're not going to hold the middling performance of the Twins against Joe Mauer(notes) in the race for AL MVP, how can you hold the wretched Royals against Greinke for Cy?

Luckily, Greinke's 15-strikeout performance against the Indians on Tuesday provided a nice reminder that the Royals' ace should be leading the discussion. He leads the league in ERA by .30, rates second in WHIP (by only .01 to Jarrod Washburn(notes)) and is second in the AL in strikeouts. Throw in the fact that he ranks dead last in run support (4.72) with pitchers who have thrown over 100 innings and it's easy to discount the fact he ranks seventh in wins.

Justin Verlander(notes), Detroit Tigers  14-7, 3.38 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 211 Ks 

After a horrible 2008, Verlander has posted numbers that not only put him in the AL comeback player of the year discussion, by Cy contention as well. He's often been unhittable in the strictest sense of the word and he's anchored a Tigers rotation that has put the team in the driver's seat for the AL Central. Verlander has been average in August (2-2, 4.52) and is fast approaching his career high in innings (201.2), but if he can put together a strong September, his name will be hard to ignore on the ballot.

CC Sabathia(notes), New York Yankees  15-7, 3.39 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 148 Ks

Sabathia hasn't exactly been the model of consistency — his April and July were ugly — but he's coming on at the right time with a 5-0 record and 2.65 ERA in August. He also has the advantage of leading the majors in wins, playing for the best team and pitching in the country's biggest media market. A Cy triumph would give him two in three seasons.

There are other pitchers with cases to be made — Josh Beckett(notes), Felix Hernandez(notes), even Roy Halladay(notes) still — but I have the feeling it'll come down to these three and that if the numbers stay relative, Greinke should get the nod — regardless of his win total.

Of course, it could all change before that final week. For now, who's your pick?  

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