Pitching has become the dominant asset in baseball in recent years, with runs down, strikeouts up and some of the biggest stars in the sport seen every five days on the mound.
Two of those talented arms will be bestowed with the highest honor in the pitching profession when the Cy Young Award winners for 2013 are revealed Wednesday. The awards for each league, as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, will be announced on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET.
The National League finalists include the Marlins' Jose Fernandez, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright. In the American League, it's down to the Rangers' Yu Darvish, the Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma and the Tigers' Max Scherzer.
As pitching continues to take center stage, these arms delivered some consistently dominant work, each contributing a full season of days when his team was happy to have him on the mound -- and the opponent was not.
In the NL, Kershaw is the only finalist who has previously won the award. Having taken top honors in 2011, the 25-year-old left-hander has to be considered a front-runner.
Kershaw posted a Major League-low 1.83 ERA, good for his third straight NL ERA title, and an NL-high 232 strikeouts in helping push the Dodgers back to the postseason. Kershaw was named the NL's Outstanding Pitcher in the Players' Choice Awards last week.
But Fernandez, who Monday was named the NL Rookie of the Year, had an impressive season for a rookie -- or any pitcher. He posted a 2.19 ERA that was second only to Kershaw, and he allowed a Majors-low .182 opponents' batting average.
Wainwright, who has finished second and third in previous Cy Young voting, was the veteran rock of the Cardinals' pitching staff. He had NL highs in wins (19), complete games (five), shutouts (two) and innings pitched (241 1/3).
In the AL, Scherzer started off the season with 13 straight victories to end up 21-3, and he kept up with the AL leaders with a 2.90 ERA for a Tigers team that won the AL Central. Like Kershaw, he was named his league's Outstanding Pitcher by his peers in Players' Choice voting.
Darvish and Iwakuma are two pitchers with outstanding credentials, and they both hope to become the first Cy Young winner born in Japan. Darvish, in his second year after the Rangers signed him as a much-heralded free agent from Japan's Pacific League, led the Majors with 277 strikeouts. Iwakuma was third in the AL with a 2.66 ERA.
The presentation of Cy Young Awards will mark the third of four straight days of BBWAA awards, all televised on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET through Thursday. This week's awards schedule:
Monday: Rookie of the Year
American League: Wil Myers, Rays. Runner-up: Jose Iglesias, Tigers.
National League: Fernandez, Marlins. Runner-up: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers.
Tuesday: Manager of the Year
American League: Terry Francona, Indians. Runner-up: John Farrell, Red Sox.
National League: Clint Hurdle, Pirates. Runner-up: Don Mattingly, Dodgers.
Wednesday: Cy Young Award
AL finalists: Darvish, Iwakuma, Scherzer.
NL finalists: Fernandez, Kershaw, Wainwright.
Thursday: Most Valuable Player
AL finalists: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; Chris Davis, Orioles; Mike Trout, Angels.
NL finalists: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Yadier Molina, Cardinals.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com.