If we assume that Craig Kimbrel's not a serious candidate -- he shouldn't be, since he's not going to pitch even 65 innings this season -- then it's about three guys: R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, and Johnny Cueto.
Thanks to Clayton Kershaw's injury, Dickey's probably going to lead the league in strikeouts. Right now he leads the league in ERA. But Monday night he failed in his second try for 19 wins, which might hurt.
(More "analysis" after the jump ...)
If Dickey doesn't reach 20 and Gonzalez gets to 20 or 21, he's a great candidate. Cueto's got a shot, too, but probably needs to win each of his last three starts. Because while Cueto's got great WAR, that derives from park effects, and if the voters give much credence to park effects this year, it'll be the first time in the history of the award.
All three candidates will probably start three more games, but there's a vast difference in how much they're likely to pitch.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, figures to start once against the Brewers and twice against the Phillies. But the second of those games against the Phillies comes on the penultimate day of the season, and with the Nationals having long-ago clinched the division title, Gonzalez will probably either pitch just a few innings as a tune-up or skip that start altogether, so he's ready for Game 1 or 2 of the Division Series.
Same thing with Cueto. His Reds having locked up the Central, he'll either pitching sparingly or not at all against the Cardinals on the next-to-last day of the season ... in a game, by the way, that might be terribly important for the Cardinals. Cueto's other starts should come against the Cubs this week and the Brewers next week.
Prediction: Dickey becomes the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award. But one bad outing changes the equation completely.