Gio Gonzalez and the Cy Young
Last night, before Gio Gonzalez's shutout start against the Cubs, I was looking at the NL WAR leaders for pitchers. At the top were five names; Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, and Robert Allen Dickey. Looking at other stats and a few things stand out. Clayton Kershaw is already at 199 innings, Strasburg and Gio haven't pitcher nearly that many innings, and if it wasn't for the knuckleball it would be a lot easier to go ahead and give Dickey the Cy Young.
Looking at some of the other names on the list and it is amazing that Cueto has put up the numbers he has in Great American Ballpark, and while Strasburg and Gio have pitched the fewest innings they lead the NL in FIP at 2.64 and 2.76 respectively. More importantly and maybe most importantly Gio Gonzalez is now tied atop the NL in WAR after his dominating start last night, and as unimportant as wins are as a stat Gio is also tied atop the NL in that. Gio also has the second highest K/9 behind teammate Stephen Strasburg.
The point is that of the pitchers not being shutdown Gio Gonzalez is the best when he is on the mound. Kershaw has the same WAR only because he has thrown more innings, and while those innings are very important Gio's dominance is just as important. It would also be tough to say that the team with the best pitching staff in the majors shouldn't also have one of the top candidates for the Cy Young.
If the season were to end right now there would be a huge debate over who should win the NL Cy Young and it has been a close race all season long. It is hard to predict what those with votes will do. If Gio ends up leading in wins, WAR, FIP, and is top five in strikeouts and ERA he would appeal to multiple types of voters and it becomes harder to seem him being denied.
There is a lot of baseball left to be played and Gio Gonzalez is going to get about five more starts. If in those five starts Gio pitches like he has all season long then he should get plenty of votes. The big question will be what do Cueto, Kershaw, and Dickey do. This is a very close race and one bad start by any of the candidate could decide it. Gio Gonzalez has been the best pitcher on the best pitching staff in the majors. Many have lost sight of this because Stephen Strasburg is being shut down, but when it comes to naming a Cy Young winner from the Nationals it is Gio Gonzalez.