The case for 2022 Cy Young Award finalists

Are there clear favorites amongst this yr’s Cy Young Award candidates?

In the American League, a possible Hall of Famer returned after lacking the complete 2021 season and solely enhanced his legacy. In the National League, a burgeoning ace turned in a season paying homage to workhorses from a bygone period.

However, do not crown ’em simply but. There are 4 different pitchers who stepped up when their groups wanted them most and who have been mainly unhittable for extended stretches. They should be right here simply the identical.

Here’s a take a look at the case for every of the six Cy Young nominees earlier than the winners are introduced Wednesday on MLB Network at 6 pm ET.

Justin Verlander, understandably, is receiving an excessive amount of assist for his third BBWAA American League Cy Young, however Cease is simply as deserving to win his first within the 2022 AL balloting. He completed the season like an ace, posting a 10-6 report with a 1.51 ERA (23 earned runs over 137 1/3 innings pitched), a .173 common towards and 156 strikeouts in his final 22 begins.

Cease allowed one earned run or much less 23 instances in 2022, tied with Wilbur Wood (1972) for essentially the most in membership historical past. The 23 begins are essentially the most by a Major League starter (non-opener) since Blake Snell in 2018 (additionally 23). The solely starters (non-openers) in AL/NL historical past with extra video games of 1 or zero earned runs allowed are Sandy Koufax (25 in 1963; 24 in 1966) and Bob Gibson (24 in 1968).

The right-hander set an AL/NL report with 14 straight begins permitting one earned run or much less from May 29 to Aug. 11, yielding six earned runs over 82 innings throughout that stretch. There have been 9 separate begins the place Cease gave up two hits or much less, together with Cease taking a no-hitter inside one out of completion at residence towards the Twins on Sept. 3, earlier than Luis Arraez’s two-out, ninth-inning single.

His 2.20 ERA was second within the AL behind Verlander, as was his .190 common towards (.186 for Verlander). Cease’s 227 strikeouts left him second behind Gerrit Cole’s 257, whereas his slider was rated as essentially the most invaluable pitch in baseball with a -36-run worth, per Statcast, forward of Shohei Ohtani’s slider at -28. Opponents had a .128 common towards Cease’s slider and a .209 slugging proportion, once more per Statcast. — Scott Merkin

Manoah is in robust towards Verlander right here, in fact, however the 24-year-old star represents a mix of high quality and amount that is changing into uncommon amongst starters. The huge right-hander’s 2.24 ERA jumps out, however doing that over 196 2/3 innings makes it extra spectacular as he continued to point out all of the makings of a workhorse starter. Any day Manoah took the mound, the Blue Jays may exhale and count on seven innings.

It’s been a outstanding rise for Manoah. Even as one of many group’s high prospects coming into ’21, he exceeded all expectations and dramatically accelerated his timeline. The rookie marketing campaign of ’21 was spectacular as he posted a 3.22 ERA, and a repeat of that may have been thought of a hit. Manoah discovered one other gear, although, rising as a fan favourite with a boisterous on-field persona that made every of his begins a must-watch. That mentality can also be what makes Manoah particular on the mound, in some way rising stronger the second a runner reaches base.

It’s tough to overstate Manoah’s worth to his personal crew this previous season, too. The Blue Jays misplaced Hyun Jin Ryu to Tommy John surgical procedure, José Berríos had a shocking down yr, Yusei Kikuchi fell out of the rotation, and there was little depth ready to step in. A sophomore droop from Manoah would have sunk this rotation, however as a substitute, the massive man stepped in alongside Kevin Gausman because the co-ace. He’ll personal that title for years to come back, and there are a lot extra Cy Young runs to come back. — Keegan Matheson

Verlander went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA in 28 begins and was the ace for a 106-win division champion. At age 39, he led the American League in wins, ERA, WHIP (0.83), opponents’ OPS (.497), opponents’ batting common (.186) and hits per 9 innings (5.97). His 1.75 ERA was the bottom by an AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez (1.74) in 2000. His 220 ERA+ was the most effective of his profession, topping his Cy Young/MVP season with the Tigers in 2011 (172).

Coming off Tommy John surgical procedure and lacking all of 2021 (and making just one begin in 2020), Verlander had three begins by which he did not permit successful, changing into the primary pitcher in historical past to make three hitless begins of a minimum of 5 innings in a single season. He didn’t permit a homer in his closing 10 begins, masking 58 2/3 innings. He posted the bottom ratio of homers allowed per 9 innings (0.62) by a right-hander within the AL. He threw a minimum of 5 innings and didn’t permit a run in 10 of his 28 begins (35.7 p.c).

The Astros went 20-8 in video games began by Verlander and he was a stopper in video games following an Astros loss. In 12 begins after a loss, he was 9-0 with a 1.11 ERA with 13 walks and 84 strikeouts in 73 innings. — Brian McTaggart

Alcantara’s 2022 season was an anomaly these days of baseball. His 228 2/3 innings and 6 full video games have been essentially the most thrown in six years. Three of these CGs got here towards postseason golf equipment. The All-Star tossed eight or extra frames in 14 of his 32 begins, essentially the most since ’14. Alcantara is a unicorn, a real workhorse who expects to go the gap every time he takes the mound.

The 27-year-old right-hander gathered essentially the most WAR — through FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference — of the finalists. His ERA (2.28), strikeouts (207) and high quality begins (24) have been Top 5 within the NL. Alcantara pitched to weak contact, as evidenced by his MLB-fewest 14.20 pitches per inning, but he nonetheless turned the primary pitcher in franchise historical past to report consecutive 200-strikeout seasons and ranked within the 94th percentile for chase charge (34.6%). Alcantara can attain triple digits within the ninth inning or unleash his changeup, which had an MLB-best -25 run worth.

If these causes aren’t sufficient, why not take reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes’ phrase for it? “Yeah, he’d be the Cy Young for me this yr. What he is executed so far as going deep into video games, doing it begin in and begin out, he would not have many blow-up outings. He goes on the market and provides them seven, eight or 9 innings and provides them an opportunity to win.” — Christina De Nicola

Fried was a key purpose why the Braves loved their first 100-win season since 2003 and captured a fifth consecutive NL East crown. The left-hander ranked third within the NL in ERA (2.48), ERA+ (164) and FIP (2.70).

This marked the second straight yr that the Braves benefited from Fried getting stronger because the season progressed. The veteran hurler produced a 2.15 ERA over his closing 17 begins of the season. The solely NL pitcher to put up a greater ERA throughout this span, which started June 20, was Julio Urías (1.89).

Fried rose to the event throughout among the greatest video games the Braves performed over the season’s closing two months. He allowed two runs or much less in every of the 5 begins he mixed to make towards the Mets and Phillies over the season’s closing two months. He set the tone in Atlanta’s huge late-season sweep of the Mets. He allowed only one run over 5 innings whereas battling the flu in that collection opener. — Mark Bowman

Urías put collectively some of the underrated seasons. He did not make the NL All-Star crew this season, and profitable the NL ERA title would not get as a lot respect because it as soon as did, though it is an extremely tough feat.

Following the All-Star break, Urías, who was understandably upset after not being chosen to the crew, responded by being the best pitcher within the NL, going 11-2 with a 1.26 ERA. In his final 14 begins, Urías allowed two or fewer earned runs in all of them.

Urías’ influence was additionally felt in a beginning rotation that was decimated by harm. At one level, the Dodgers had Tony Gonsolin, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw — three All-Star-caliber arms — on the injured record. The Dodgers desperately wanted somebody to step up and be the ace, and it was Urías who answered the decision. — Juan Toribio

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