The argument of each of the finalists for the Cy Young Award

Are there clear favorites among this year’s Cy Young Award nominees?

In the American League, a future Hall of Famer returned after missing the entire 2021 season and added to his legacy. In the National League, a fledgling ace had a season that reminded us of the workhorses of yore.

However, let’s not crown them yet. There are four other pitchers who stepped up when their teams needed them most and were basically impassable for extended periods. They also deserve to be on this list.

Here, we leave you with the argument in favor of each of the six Cy Young Award nominees. Winners will be announced today at 6 pm ET on MLB Network.

Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox

Justin Verlander is understandably drawing a lot of support to win his third AL Cy Young Award, but Cease has what it takes to win the coveted trophy in his first appearance on the 2022 ballot. The right-hander finished the season pitching like an ace, with a 10-6 record and a 1.51 ERA (23 earned runs in 137.1 innings), a .173 average against and 156 strikeouts in his last 22 starts.

Cease allowed one earned run or fewer 23 times in 2022, tied with Wilbur Wood (1972) for the most in club history in a season. The 23 starts are the most by a major league starter (not an opener) since Blake Snell in 2018 (also 23). The only starters (non-openers) in AL/NL history with more games of one earned run or fewer are Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax (25 in 1963; 24 in 1966) and Bob Gibson (24 in 1968). .

The right-hander set an AL/NL record with 14 consecutive starts allowing one earned run or fewer from May 29-Aug. 11, giving up six earned runs in 82 innings during that stretch. There were nine separate starts in which Cease allowed two hits or fewer, including the right-hander coming within one out of completing a no-hitter at home against the Twins on September 3, before Luis Arráez singled with two outs in the ninth.

His 2.20 ERA was second best in the American League behind Verlander’s, as was his .190 average against (.186 for Verlander). Cease’s 227 strikeouts ranked second to Gerrit Cole’s 257, while his slider was ranked the most valuable pitch in the majors with a value of -36 runs, according to Statcast, surpassing Shohei Ohtani’s slider at – 28. The opposition hit just .128 against Cease’s slider, who had a .209 slugging percentage against, also according to Statcast. — Scott Merkin

Alek Manoah, RHP, Blue Jays

Manoah has a tough time against Verlander here, but the 24-year-old star represents a combination of quality and quantity that’s increasingly rare among starting pitchers. What catches the eye of the prominent right-hander is his 2.24 ERA, but doing it in 196.2 innings makes him even more impressive as he increasingly displays his workhorse skills. Whenever Manoah took the mound, the Blue Jays could breathe out and wait for seven innings.

And it is that Manoah has risen like foam since he became a professional. Even as one of the most sought-after prospects in the organization heading into 2021, the right-hander has exceeded all expectations and has developed faster than expected. In his rookie season in 2021 he impressed with a 3.22 ERA, and a repeat of that would have been considered a success. But Manoah went one step further, becoming a fan favorite with his boisterous on-field personality making each of his outings must-see. That mentality is also what makes Manoah special on the mound, as he tends to get bigger after someone gets on base.

It’s also hard to overestimate Manoah’s value on his own team this past season. The Blue Jays lost lefty Hyun Jin Ryu to Tommy John surgery, José Berríos had a bad year, Yusei Kikuchi lost his spot in the rotation and the team didn’t have enough depth to show up. A poor second year from Manoah would have sunk this rotation, but instead, the burly pitcher brought out the caste alongside Kevin Gausman as the co-ace. If Manoah doesn’t win the award this year, he’ll surely have plenty of chances to win it in the future. — Keegan Matheson

Justin Verlander, RHP, Astros

Verlander went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA in 28 starts for the World Series champions, leading in wins, earned run average, WHIP (0.83), OPS against (.497), batting average against (.186) and hits per nine innings (5.97) in the American League. His 1.75 ERA was the best for a Young Circuit pitcher since Dominican Pedro Martínez’s (1.74) in 2000.

Coming off Tommy John surgery and after missing the entire 2021 season (and making just one start in 2020), Verlander had three hitless starts, becoming the first pitcher in history to accumulate three starts. of at least 5.0 hitless innings in a single season. The veteran didn’t give up a home run in his last 10 outings, in which he covered 58.2 innings. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner had the lowest rate of home runs allowed per nine innings (0.62) by a right-handed pitcher in the AL. He pitched at least 5.0 innings and gave up no runs in 10 of his 28 starts (35.7%).

The Astros went 20-8 in games started by Verlander, who was a real stopper in games after an Astros loss. In 12 starts after a team loss, the right-hander went 9-0 with a 1.11 ERA with 13 walks and 84 strikeouts in 73 innings. — brian mtaggart

Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Marlins

The Dominican’s 2022 campaign was an anomaly in today’s baseball. His 228.2 innings and six complete games were the most in six years in the majors. Three of those complete games were against clubs that qualified for the postseason. The All-Star Alcántara pitched 8.0 or more innings in 14 of his 32 starts, the most in the Majors since 2014. Alcántara is a unicorn, a true workhorse who comes out determined to pitch all the way. every time he gets on the mound.

The 27-year-old right-hander posted the most WAR — from both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference — among the finalists. His ERA (2.28), strikeouts (207) and quality starts (24) were among the top five on the Old Circuit. Alcántara’s repertoire generated weak contact, as demonstrated by his 14.20 pitches per inning (the best average in MLB) and the quisqueyan managed to become the first pitcher in franchise history to record consecutive seasons with 200 strikeouts and his swing rate. to pitches outside the zone (34.6%) was in the 94th percentile. The Dominican can also reach 100 miles per hour in the ninth inning or attack with his changeup, who led the Majors with a value of -25 runs.

If these reasons aren’t enough, why don’t we hear from Corbin Burnes, the 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner? “To me, he is the Cy Young this year. What he has done in terms of pitching a large part of the games is concerned, in each start, the games do not get out of hand either. He goes out and gives his team seven, eight or nine innings; that gives them a chance to win.” — christina de nicola

Fried was one of the main reasons Atlanta reached 100 wins for the first time since 2003 and captured the NL East title for the fifth straight year. The left-hander ranked third in the Old Circuit in ERA (2.48), EFE+ (164) and FIP (2.70).

This marked the second straight season the Braves took advantage of Fried growing stronger as the season progressed. The veteran posted a 2.15 earned run average in his last 17 starts of the year. The only National League pitcher to post an ERA during that stretch, which began on June 20, was Julio César Urías (1.89).

Fried showed up during some of the biggest games the Braves played in the final two months of the season. He allowed two runs or fewer in each of the five total appearances he made against the Mets and Phillies over the final two months of the season. He set the pace in the all-important sweep of New York in the final weeks of the season. He allowed just one run in five innings despite suffering from a soreness in the first game of that series. — Mark Bowman

Julio Cesar Urías, LHP, Dodgers

For some, the left-handed Mexican went unnoticed despite his great campaign. He didn’t make the All-Star Game this year, and winning the ERA title in the Old Circuit doesn’t command the same respect as before, although it’s a very difficult feat to achieve.

After the Midseason Classic hiatus, Urías–who of course was disappointed not to receive a call-up to that event–responded by being the best pitcher in the NL, going 11-2 with a 1.26 ERA. . In his last 14 starts, the Sinaloan allowed two streaks or less in each of them.

Urías’ impact was also felt in a starting rotation that was plagued with injuries. At one point, the Dodgers saw Tony Gonsolin, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw — three All-Star arms — go on the disabled list. The Los Angeles club desperately needed someone to step it up, and Urías raised his hand. — Juan Toribio

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The argument of each of the finalists for the Cy Young Award