In what remains one of the most surprising storylines of the Yankees’ 2013 season, Hiroki Kuroda continues to pitch like an absolute beast. Kuroda added 8 shutout innings against the Angels last night to an already impressive season as the 38 (!) year old continued to solidify his status as one of the brightest spots on a disappointing roster. It has been a strong season for Kuroda, but the last 30 days have seen the righty achieve a new level of dominance. Via Fangraphs:

5 games started | 36 IP | 5 BB | 1.25 ERA | 2.10 FIP | 0 HR allowed

Over that same span, Kuroda has posted a 1.4 WAR, tied for first in the American League. That’s not to imply that Kuroda has been a flash in the pan, as the overall season line for the man they call BIG HIROK has been nothing short of sparkling:

24 games started |154.2 IP | 11W | 2.33 ERA | 3.25 FIP | 1.69 BB/9 | 0.70 HR/9 | 3.5 WAR

Moreover, according to Baseball-Reference, Kuroda’s ERA+ of 174 is the best in the league (recall that 100 is league average). The recent exceptional performance, coupled with his overall strong season, has many clamoring for Cy Young votes and rightly so. While detractors will point to Kuroda’s lack of wins, there is a fairly recent precedent for a low-win pitcher taking home the Cy Young that provides a glimmer of hope. In 2010, Felix Hernandez went 13-12 for a dismal Mariners team, but led the league with a sparkling 2.27 ERA and 249 IP. Hernandez’ ERA+ that year was also 174 and while it was not the best mark in the league, it was certainly on the top rung of the leaderboard.

The positive here is that voters have looked past a lack of wins to recognize great pitching, so it’s possible HIROK could receive his fair share of Cy Young votes this season, especially if he finishes strong. The problem is that if Hiroki Kuroda is 2010 Felix Hernandez, he faces the issue of campaigning for the Cy Young against 2013 Felix Hernandez who has a very strong case in his own right:

5.2 WAR (1st in the American League)

2.28 ERA (1st in the American League)

2.50 FIP (2nd in the American League)

2.62 xFIP (1st in the American League)

9.22 K/9 (5th best in the American League)

1.71 BB/9 (6th best in the American League)

0.62 HR/9 (4th best in the American League)

And King Felix’s ERA+ of 161 is second to none other than Hiroki Kuroda in the American League according to Baseball-Reference. While Kuroda has pitched like an ace, if the Cy Young is designed to award the best overall pitcher, Hernandez likely represents a more compelling overall case.