by Ben Jacobs

Roger Clemens is the first pitcher to start a season 19-1 since Rube Marquard in 1912. He had a 3.44 ERA and was second in the league with 191 strikeouts before Wednesday?s start against Chicago. His team has won the last 19 games he has started and he has won his last 15 decisions.

There is little doubt that the 39-year-old will win his sixth American League Cy Young award. The important question is, does he deserve to win it?

One could argue that he has not even been the best pitcher on his team this season, as his statistics are eerily similar to those of Mike Mussina.

Mussina has a 3.29 ERA and 189 strikeouts. Mussina has allowed 74 earned runs on 185 hits in 202 2/3 innings over 30 games Clemens has allowed 75 earned runs on 183 hits in 196 1/3 innings over 29 games.

Mussina has allowed 18 homers and Clemens has given up 17. Mussina has held hitters to a .243 average, while batters have hit .247 off Clemens this year.

There are some differences, however. Mussina has three complete games and two shutouts, while Clemens has not gone the distance yet this season. Also, Mussina has walked 40 batters, compared to 60 for Clemens.

Oh yeah, Mussina has 15 wins and 11 losses. How can two pitchers have similar statistics and vastly different records?

The answer is that they have pitched in front of different offenses. The Yankees have averaged 6.31 runs per game when Clemens has started, but have only scored 4.13 runs per game for Mussina.

While the difference in run support explains the different records, I still believe Clemens has been the better pitcher. Mussina has had four ?disaster? starts this season in which he gave up more than one run per inning pitched, and the Yankees lost all four. Clemens has kept New York in every game he has started.

However, just because Clemens is the best pitcher on the Yankees does not mean he is the best pitcher in the league. Several other pitchers deserve Cy Young consideration, but I am only going to consider Seattle?s Freddy Garcia because he is the best of the group.

Garcia is 17-5 with a league leading 2.85 ERA. He has been better than Clemens in most other categories as well. He has allowed 70 earned runs on 183 hits in 220 2/3 innings. He has only struck out 146 batters and has walked 61, but he has held opponents to a .225 average and has only allowed 13 homers.

Garcia has also thrown four complete games, three of them shutouts. He has allowed one or zero runs in 11 starts, compared to only seven such starts for Clemens.

Garcia has had three disaster starts, but he did not give up more than six runs in any of them and Seattle actually won two. Clemens has not had any disaster starts, but he has given up five runs seven times and six runs once. It just happens that the Yankees have won all but two of those games.

One might argue that Garcia has benefited from pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, but Yankee Stadium is also a pitcher?s park. Furthermore, Garcia has pitched better on the road, compiling a 9-1 record with a 2.77 ERA. Clemens is also 9-1 on the road, but with a 3.75 ERA.

A closer look at the numbers reveals just how much better Garcia has been. Garcia has allowed 33 earned runs on 86 hits in 107 1/3 innings on the road, while Clemens has allowed 46 earned runs on 112 hits in 110 1/3 innings.

Many people cite the lack of a real ace as a reason Seattle might not win the World Series. Well, not only do the Mariners have an ace, they have the best pitcher in the American League and he?s only 24 years old.

Jacobs can be reached at bjacobs@campustimes.org.

by Mike Gerton

With less than a month remaining in the regular season, baseball?s races are heating up.

From Barry Bonds? climb to 71 home runs to the congested National League playoff race, there are plenty of reasons to keep watching baseball through the end of the season, even if you are like me and your team has been out of the playoff hunt since May.

To me, the most intriguing race of the season is the one for the NL Cy Young award.

Top of the list

The front-runners for the honor are Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Greg Maddux of the Atlanta Braves.

All three veterans are among the league leaders in wins, ERA, strike-outs, shutouts, complete games and innings pitched.

Being a leading contender in the Cy Young race is nothing new to these three aces.

Player analysis

Johnson has won the last two NL awards and also has an American League award.

Maddux became the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young awards from 1992-1995. Though Schilling has never won the award, he has been one of the game?s most dominating pitchers and finished fourth in the award balloting in 1997.

Schilling has compiled the best record and he became the first pitcher in the majors to reach 20 wins this season. The main criticism of Schilling is that he gives up too many home runs.

Making-up for his mistakes

He is second in the majors with 33 this season, probably because he has a tendency to rely on his overpowering fastball too much at times, giving batters a clearer view of the pitch. But by minimizing other mistakes during games, Schilling is able to get away with surrendering many long balls.

Another element that makes Schilling so indispensable is his willingness and ability to pitch late into games.

Bottomline

Schilling is one of the best in the game at getting ahead in the count, which allows him to keep his pitch count low and stay effective long into games.

Considered by many to be the best pitcher of the ?90s, Maddux excels by utilizing pinpoint control and a vast knowledge of each batter he faces.

Because he does not have an overpowering fastball, Maddux relies on placement and changing speeds.

This season Maddux went a span of 72 1/3 innings without issuing a walk, setting a NL record. Yet it was Maddux himself who put the streak in perspective.

?Walks are a big part of pitching. You?ve got good walks and by mike gerton

With less than a month remaining in the regular season, baseball?s races are heating up.

From Barry Bonds? climb to 71 home runs to the congested National League playoff race, there are plenty of reasons to keep watching baseball through the end of the season, even if you are like me and your team has been out of the playoff hunt since May.

To me, the most intriguing race of the season is the one for the NL Cy Young award.

Top of the list

The front-runners for the honor are Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Greg Maddux of the Atlanta Braves.

All three veterans are among the league leaders in wins, ERA, strike-outs, shutouts, complete games and innings pitched.

Being a leading contender in the Cy Young race is nothing new to these three aces.

Player analysis

Johnson has won the last two NL awards and also has an American League award.

Maddux became the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young awards from 1992-1995. Though Schilling has never won the award, he has been one of the game?s most dominating pitchers and finished fourth in the award balloting in 1997.

Schilling has compiled the best record and he became the first pitcher in the majors to reach 20 wins this season. The main criticism of Schilling is that he gives up too many home runs.

Making-up for his mistakes

He is second in the majors with 33 this season, probably because he has a tendency to rely on his overpowering fastball too much at times, giving batters a clearer view of the pitch. But by minimizing other mistakes during games, Schilling is able to get away with surrendering many long balls.

Another element that makes Schilling so indispensable is his willingness and ability to pitch late into games.

Bottomline

Schilling is one of the best in the game at getting ahead in the count, which allows him to keep

his pitch count low and stay effective long into games.

Considered by many to be the best pitcher of the ?90s, Maddux excels by utilizing pinpoint control and a vast knowledge of each batter he faces.

Because he does not have an overpowering fastball, Maddux relies on placement and changing speeds.

This season Maddux went a span of 72 1/3 innings without issuing a walk, setting a NL record. Yet it was Maddux himself who put the streak in perspective.

?Walks are a big part of pitching. You?ve got good walks and you?ve got bad walks. That?s why the streak doesn?t matter,? he said in a post-game interview.

Maddux?s maturity and sagacity have helped him to a 17-9 record this season. Johnson maintains the lowest ERA of the three, leading Maddux by .59. He is also leading the majors in strikeouts with 342, a whopping 78 ahead of the second place Schilling.

Of all three pitchers, Johnson has the most ability to totally dominate an opponent. Johnson has won 10 of his last 11 decisions, averaging 10 strikeouts per contest in that stretch.

On May 8, Johnson tied the major league record for strikeouts in nine innings when he fanned 20 Cincinnati Reds. Later, the ?Big Unit? tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a relief appearance by striking out 16 batters in seven innings against the San Diego Padres. With four starts likely remaining, he has a shot at breaking Nolan Ryan?s single season strikeout record of 383.

In a season where the top candidates are so statistically extraordinary, one is challenged to truly consider each pitcher?s dominance in order to determine a winner.

While Schilling and Maddux are having phenomenal seasons, it seems that Johnson is the best at overwhelming an opponent. At 38 years old, Johnson is still at the pinnacle of his game and has shown no signs of letting up anytime soon.

Johnson is the player I would want to take the mound in a must-win situation, and thus is my pick for the NL Cy Young award.

Gerton can be reached at mgerton@campustimes.org.



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