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August 28, 2012 at 6:25 AM

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Felix Hernandez Cy Young Watch: He's now ERA King -- and the frontrunner?

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Photo credit: Getty Images

Our tracking of Felix Hernandez's bid to win a second Cy Young Award:

OK, with so few starts remaining, we're going to have to upgrade The Watch from once a week to once every five days (after all of Hernandez's remaining starts). The race is too tight and fluid. And Hernandez is pitching too well to let a performance pass without analyzing it.

Hernandez was brilliant again Monday night, throwing a five-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Minnesota. It was, amazingly, his fourth 1-0 triumph of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's the third pitcher since 1969 to post that many 1-0 wins, joining the elite company of Ferguson Jenkins (did it in 1974) and Bert Blyleven (1976).

I joked on Twitter last night that, with the way Hernandez is pitching right now, the Mariners would have to score negative runs for him to lose.

The Mariners can't do that, can they?

For the season, through 27 starts, Hernandez is now 13-5 with a 2.43 ERA.That's the lowest ERA of any starter in the major leagues.

And that's his inside track to winning another Cy.

Hernandez currently leads the league in ERA, shutouts and innings pitched (though Justin Verlander, last week's innings leader, hasn't made his 27th start yet this week).

Tampa Bay's David Price, who had the best ERA and the lead in the American League Cy Young Award race last week, struggled Monday against Texas to close an otherwise extraordinary month. Price went into the game with a 0.60 ERA in August, but he allowed six earned runs and 10 hits in four innings against the Rangers in a 6-5 loss. He's now 16-5 with a 2.53 ERA (up from 2.28).

Here are the ERAs of the top five contenders:

Hernandez 2.43
Verlander 2.50
Price 2.53
Chris Sale 2.65
Jered Weaver 2.74

Consider Hernandez the new frontrunner to win the AL Cy. He would be far from the unanimous choice with this much competition, but if the season ended today, Hernandez would have to be the man. Three of his last five starts have been shutouts, including the perfect game. His closing speed is unrivaled in this race.

As I wrote earlier, the race is fluid. And it's close. So every performance counts. But Hernandez continues to surge. He's building an impressive 2012 resume.

If Hernandez can maintain the lowest ERA in the majors, he should win his second Cy. He is 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA since June 12. That's quite a rally after being 4-5 with a 3.70 ERA two and a half months ago.

Check back later this week for the usual, more detailed Cy Watch post.


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