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Hernandez and Price are evolving

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Earlier in the year, while introducing the starting lineups at a New Orleans Hornets versus Chicago Bulls game, actor Will Ferrell delighted a crowd of 15,000 by revealing that Bulls guard Derrick Rose's favorite movie is "The Notebook." He also hinted that forward Luol Deng owns a pet dolphin named Chachi.

Ferrell's appearance with Zach Galifianakis at Wrigley Field on Tuesday was similarly entertaining. This time, he and Galifianakis had a pizza delivered to the pitcher's mound where the two comedians scarfed down slices with Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster.

The stunt was part of a promotion for the duo's new movie, "The Campaign," which pits Ferrell and Galifianakis against one another as they compete for a chance to represent their district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price and Seattle Mariners righty Felix Hernandez aren't running for congress, but they are both competing for this year's American League Cy Young Award.

Both pitchers were on the hill Thursday and each one made a pretty convincing case for why they should be this year's Cy Young recipient.

Hernandez, who is looking for Cy Young No. 2 after winning the award in 2010, fired eight breathtaking innings Thursday in Seattle's 6-1 win over Kansas City. This performance came on the heels of an equally flawless showing July 14 versus Texas (9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 12 Ks, 0 BBs).

Winning games isn't easy to do when your team averages barely four runs per contest (among the 14 American League squads, only the Oakland Athletics have scored fewer runs than the Mariners this season), but somehow Hernandez is finding a way.

Despite opening the year with a disappointing 4-5 record, the 26-year-old from Venezuela has clawed his way back to 8-5 after collecting four wins in his past six starts (1.37 ERA). In that time, Hernandez (143 K's) has reclaimed the major league lead in strikeouts from Justin Verlander, while lowering his season ERA from 3.52 to 2.82. His strikeout-to-walk ratio during that span is an astounding 52 to 6.

Hernandez regressed in 2011 (14-14, 3.47) after posting back-to-back seasons with an ERA of under 2.50 in 2009 (2.49) and 2010 (2.27), but now it looks like he's back on track again. His fastball, while not quite as potent as it was in his early years, remains in the 91-94 mph range. Hernandez is still getting plenty of whiffs on his fastball but the pitch has also induced many ground ball outs throughout the season (including 10 on Thursday against the Royals).

The movement on Hernandez's breaking ball is baffling and his changeup, a pitch he threw only five percent of the time back in 2009 but now employs on 28.3 percent of his pitches, has become almost unhittable. King Felix is on top of his game right now and it looks like he'll be in this year's Cy Young race until the very end.

But let's not forget about Price, the major league's wins leader and holder of a stingy 2.64 ERA. The lanky 26-year-old has been devouring left-handers this season (.205 BAA) and has been nearly impossible to beat when pitching in his home stadium (7-2, 2.03 ERA in 10 starts).

Price tormented the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, limiting the Tribe to two hits and three walks in seven scoreless frames. The victory was Price's 13th and it puts him on pace for 23 wins, four better than his previous career-high set in 2009.

Consistency was an issue for Price last year (12-13, 3.49) but right now he looks as sharp as ever.

I heard someone say earlier this week that this season Price is pitching instead of just throwing and I couldn't agree more after taking in his performance Thursday against Cleveland.

Price still throws ridiculously hard (he's averaging 95.5 mph on his fastballs this season, second only to Washington's Stephen Strasburg) but he's not nearly as reliant on his heater as he has been in past years (as evidenced by the fact that he's thrown it on only 61.5 percent of his pitches, a career- low). Of the seven strikeouts Price tallied on Thursday, three were recorded on the fastball, three came on the curve and one came on a devastating changeup that caught Michael Brantley looking.

Price, who is 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA since June 19, is firing on all cylinders and appears to be well on his way to completing the finest season of his five- year major league career.

The fantasy benefits these two pitchers provide are obvious but what's important to me is the evolution I'm seeing in Hernandez and Price. After showing small signs of decline in 2011, both of these pitchers have returned to the form that made them top fantasy draft picks two seasons ago. Hernandez and Price have found ways to adapt after hitting some rough patches and that kind of resiliency signals to me that both will be huge fantasy contributors for years to come.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.