Cy's the Limit?

Tuesday, March 11 2003 @ 07:52 AM EST

Contributed by: Coach

Somebody took his happy pills! Richard Griffin has only nice things to say about Roy Halladay and his latest superb outing:

He threw a dozen curveballs at varying speeds, 11 of them for strikes and a couple of them first-pitch strikes. Even threw a changeup or two. He had movement on both sides of the plate and had hitters off-balance and fouling pitches off their own toes, always a sign a pitcher's good stuff is behaving.

Griffin, in a very good mood, even has a compliment for the Tosca/Ricciardi regime. As some of us prepare for fantasy drafts, and just to test everyone's prognostication skills, how do you think Doc compares to other AL starters? Not long-term, just for the upcoming season. Or, to ask the question another way, who do you think are the leading contenders for this year's Cy Young award?

I acknowledge Pedro Martinez as #1, with fewer concerns about his durability than I had at this time a year ago. His great stuff is enhanced by his unrivalled understanding of the craft; Pedro is a pitching genius. However, he's a shoulder twinge away from someone else taking over as the league's best, and it's a photo-finish for second among Doc, the Oakland trio, and a few other studs around the league. Here's my top 10:

2. DOC
10. LOWE

Apologies to Mark Buehlre, Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia; they could have just as easily been #8, but I'm anticipating a better year from the Moose. My resistance to bandwagon-jumping prevents me from including Johan Santana, who might struggle with his control at times this year, but should move into the elite by 2004. I'm also a bit concerned about Washburn's psyche -- two WS losses and an offseason of feeling unappreciated will either motivate him to be even better, or distract him.

I like "flaky" lefties; Bill Lee is a hero, and Boomer, not always wisely, generally speaks the truth. Still, in the battle for second-best, Halladay gets the edge over Zito on the dreaded intangibles. Doc is more intense, more dedicated to improving, and ready to put up the big numbers he'll need to impress the voters. Outside of Toronto, nobody noticed his awesome second half in 2001, and as recently as the 2002 all-star game, some supposedly knowledgeable observers dismissed him as a token selection, watched him groove a pitch to Bonds (he owed Barry, after pitching around him two weeks earlier) and wondered if he was for real. This year, Halladay will finally be "discovered" by the rest of baseball.