This afternoon's game is being billed as a duel between the top two Cy Young Award candidates.
Which is nuts. Beckett deserves some votes -- though he has not been the top pitcher in the league. The only thing Wang -- a very good pitcher -- has going for him is his win total.
Wang and Beckett each have an 18-6 record. However, a pitcher's won-loss record is just about meaningless. A guy can allow nine runs in five innings and get a win and then allow one run in nine innings and get a loss. Much like RBIs for a batter, a W-L is dependent on too many factors out of the pitcher's control. It comes down to: does he allow runs?
In ERA, Beckett is 8th in the AL (3.27) and Wang is 14th (3.69).
Wang's ERA+ (the ratio of the league's ERA, adjusted to the pitcher's home park, to that of the pitcher) is 118. That's good, but Kelvim Escobar is 10th the AL in ERA+ and he's at 134. Beckett is 5th (140), behind Johan Santana (143), Erik Bedard (141), Brian Bannister (141) and Dan Haren (141).
Wang's 118 ERA+ is almost identical to Curt Schilling's 116. Is anyone saying Schilling deserves the Cy Young Award? I don't think so. (Sure, Rick Sutcliffe is touting Roy Halladay (119 ERA+ and 20th in ERA) as the top AL pitcher, but he has the cognitive power of a Chiclet.)
In fact, there are two pitchers on each of the other two playoff-bound clubs -- CC Sabathia (138) and Fausto Carmona (138) of Cleveland and John Lackey (135) and Escobar (134) of the Angels -- that are worthier candidates than Wang.
Back in late June, when Beckett's record was 11-1, everyone was calling him the best pitcher in baseball. Hogwash. Haren was a much better pitcher than Beckett at that time (witness his 1.91 ERA to Beckett's 3.07).
This is a great matchup, but it is in no way a Battle for the Cy Young.