Zito's pitched pretty darn well since April - reminding many citizens of Athletics Nation of 2002. Some of even claimed he's pitching better than 2002 and others suggest that he's a strong candidate in a less than inspiring Cy Young race.
Is this realistic? Well, absent any ridiculously advanced metrics - the best way to predict a player's future performance is based on their past history. So, what I did is project what each player in my theoretical Cy Young race from here on out, based on an evenly weighted combination of this year and their last three years. Is this a perfect formula? No - but it provides us with a fairly accurate quick glimpse into the future.
My field is the top 11 guys in era, minus those with fewer than 140 innings pitched. I allowed #11, Johan Santana in, because, well, he's Johan Santana and he belongs in the discussion. Just for fun, I also threw the youngest member of the A's rotation into the mix as well.
Here's what we've got:
Player_ innings wins loss era KO's WHIP
Halladay 192.31 16.0 5.6 2.43 145.7 0.95
Harden_ 161.99 13.1 5.8 2.78 141.0 1.10
Buehrle 227.21 16.7 6.7 3.04 136.4 1.17
Silva_ _ 201.14 10.0 6.6 3.41 _76.8 1.19
Santana 208.43 14.3 8.0 3.53 225.9 1.07
Zito _ _ 222.28 15.5 10.9 3.55 212.5 1.17
Garland_ 203.36 19.5 7.8 3.62 99.0 1.25
Colon__ 212.65 18.1 8.8 3.67 153.8 1.27
I also made two other adjustments. I projected Halladay's stats out over a shorter remainder of the season; and, for the balance of the season, to predict Zito's future performance, I used the average of his last 3 years and his stats to this point of 2005 - but for his era and whip I exclude his first two, disasterous starts.
If you want to give him even more of the benefit of the doubt and drop his entire April, his era would be 3.52 and his WHIP would stay the same. His position would barely change, despite the fact that this formula predicts him to post the third lowest era from here on out (Behind Santana and Halladay)
The bottom line is, Zito has far too much ground to make up to have a realistic shot at being among the realistic candidates for the Cy.
In my opinion, the Athletic with the best shot at finding himself in this race is none other than King Richard. If he can go on a run, he's the kind of young, exciting pitcher that can excite voters to pick him over the possibly slightly superior, been-there-done-that veteran ... think Zito over Pedro in 2002.