We have an early candidate for American League Pitcher of the Month. Or Year.
This month, Félix Hernández has started five games. He's given up six runs in those five starts, while winning four of them. Oh, but we've seen months like that before, right?
Sure. What we haven't seen before is this: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Félix Hernández is just the third pitcher in recorded history to pitch three 1-0 shutouts in one calendar month. And the last guy who did it was ... Well, first let me ask this question ...
Where were you in July of 1933?
That's what I thought. So you missed the last time a pitcher hurled three 1-0 shutouts in a month, because Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell was the last one who did it. And the first was Dick "Baldy" Rudolph, who did it in 1916.*
* Also in 1916, the National League's total earned-run average was 2.61. Shutouts weren't all that easy to come by, though, because of all the unearned runs.
Just a month ago, Hernández was not a viable Cy Young candidate because he'd won only nine games: 9-5; granted, with a sparkling 2.80 ERA. But now King Felix is 13-5 with a league-best 2.43 ERA, and he certainly is a Cy Young candidate.
Just one of five, though. It's truly wide open, with Hernández joined by Jered Weaver (16-3, 2.74), David Price (16-5, 2.53), Justin Verlander (12-7, 2.50) and Chris Sale (15-4, 2.64). A sub-2.50 ERA might be enough to win it, or 20 wins might be enough to win it. The combination would probably be a lock.