While whipping up our Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants Series Preview on Monday, I noted that neither Madison Bumgarner nor Clayton Kershaw were at the forefront of the 2012 National League Cy Young conversation.
That's because of the dominance from other pitchers like Johnny Cueto. But Bumgarner, who was absolutely dominant in an eight-inning, 10-strikeout winning effort against Los Angeles, might very well be putting himself in the conversation.
Bumgarner lowered his ERA to 2.83 and raised his win total to 14 on Monday and started pushing himself towards the top of most National League pitching categories.
He's now seventh in WAR for pitchers, fifth in ERA (just 0.39 back of Cueto), fifth in wins (two back of Cueto), first in WHIP, fourth in innings pitched (just seven innings behind Kershaw) and sixth in strikeouts (just 21 K's behind R.A. Dickey).
It's not likely that Bumgarner can catch Cueto in WAR, but in terms of the stats that are truly eyeballed by Cy Young voters, he's got as good a shot as anyone of winning the "Pitching Triple Crown" (won last year by Kershaw when he picked up the Cy).
Bumgarner's second-half performance isn't hurting things either: He's 4-2 since the All-Star Break, with a 1.93 ERA, 61 strikeouts in 59 innings and an unholy 6.78 K/BB ratio since the midseason classic.
He's had a quality start in every outing, on the road or at home, and generally he's established himself as the ace of the Giants staff.
Projecting this sort of performance over the rest of the season is a real stretch, but if Bumgarner keeps dealing like the way he did on Monday night and the Giants make a strong push in the NL West and ultimately make the playoffs, MadBum is going to give Cy Young voters something serious to think about when it comes time to vote.