Adam Wainwright has came very close to winning the Cy Young Award on a couple different occasions. In 2009, he finished 3rd in a tight(and controversial) race. Wainwright led the National League with 19 wins that season. He was denied his 20th win when the bullpen blew his last start of the 2009 season. 20 wins might of won it for him. Instead, the Giants Tim Lincecum won the award with teammate Chris Carpenter finishing second. In 2010 Wainwright was in a close battle with the Phillies Roy Halladay for the award, with Halladay having slightly better stats. They were close and Wainwright won 20 games in 2010, but Doc won 21. Halladay won the 2010 Cy Young by a landslide, winning every first place vote, leaving Waino in second.
2011 was supposed to be the year that Wainwright finally broke through and won the Cy Young Award. Unfortunately, he went down in the beginning of spring training that year and had to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. It was a bad season to miss out on. The Cardinals came back from 10 games back of the wild card and miracously made the postseason on the final game of the regular season. The Cardinals 11th championship came soon after.
Wainwright had a up and down season in 2012 in his first season back from TJ surgery. He struggled with command and didn't have a good feeling for his curveball. He improved in May after a rough April, but wasn't sharp in June. Wainwright pitched his best in the second half, especially in June and July. For the season, Wainwright was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA, stats not typical of him. His second half numbers were much better as he went 7-5 with a 3.28 ERA. He also closed out the season on a positive note, winning Game 4 of the NLCS.
Now fully recovered from surgery and his command sharp again, Wainwright has been like the 2009-10 version. Coming into Monday's game, he is third in ERA(2.18), first in wins(10), 5th in strikeouts(97), 2nd in innings pitched(103), and 8th in WHIP(1.01). He also has 2 shutouts and 3 complete games, which lead the NL. Most likely heading for his second career All Star appearance in a month. Waino is making another run at the Cy Young this year. He has plenty of competition in the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw, the Mets Matt Harvey, the Phillies Cliff Lee, the Nats Jordan Zimmermann, the DBacks Patrick Corbin, teammate Shelby Miller, and the Braves Mike Minor.
I think his main competition is Kershaw and Harvey, maybe Lee or Zimmermann. Kershaw and Harvey play on losing teams, which will hurt their record. Lee could get traded this year. Zimmermann's numbers are very good, but doesn't have the strikeouts the other guys do. Corbin allows more runners and strikes out less guys than Harvey does, but both pitchers are only in their second season, and first full years. Miller is in his rookie season. It will be interesting if these guys hold up in the second half or not. Minor has had an impressive start, but doesn't have much of a track record. Wainwright is already halfway to 20 wins and it's a little under a month til the All Star break. Kershaw has the better ERA and WHIP, and a couple more strikeouts. Wainwright is very close to those numbers, and if he wins 20 plus he will have a good chance at the award. Wainwright is in a groove and I doubt he slows down.
Here's a look at the numbers:
Pitcher Record ERA WHIP Innings Strikeouts
Wainwright 10-3 2.18 1.01 102.0 97
Kershaw 5-4 1.84 0.97 107.1 104
Harvey 5-1 2.04 0.91 97.0 102
Lee 8-2 2.55 0.98 102.1 89
Zimmermann 9-3 2.44 0.93 99.2 67
Miller 7-4 2.08 0.96 86.1 96
Corbin 9-0 2.28 1.01 94.2 74
Minor 8-2 2.68 0.97 90.2 85
Right now, Kershaw is his biggest threat, followed by Harvey. Miller is also close, but I think Wainwright's inning advantage should matter just as much as the 2 win difference. Kershaw's sub-2 ERA is pretty impressive, but he only has a slight advantage in WHIP, innings, and strikeouts. If the numbers are that close at the end of the season, I think Waino wins the Cy Young Award.