With a little more than two months left in the season, there is no better time than the present to look at the top contenders for the 2022 American League CY Young award. This year’s award should come down to the wire as several pitchers are having spectacular seasons. Robbie Ray surprisingly won the award last year by a landslide despite Gerritt Cole having a better season and stats.
1. Shane McClenahan, Rays
The 25-year-old left-hander has been better in year two thus far, after a solid rookie season where he finished seventh in Rookie of the Year voting. McClenahan has worked further in games this year and is holding opponents to just a .180 batting average. He also has increased his strikeouts (by over 1.5) and decreased his walk (by 1.0) per nine innings.
McClenahan ranks in the top 3 in most major advanced categories, leading the junior circuit in walks and hits allowed per inning, hits per nine innings, and strikeouts/walks ratio. Overall, the 2022 all-star is 10-4 with 158 strikeouts, 2.03 ERA, and a 0.828 WHIP in 122 innings.
2. Justin Verlander, Astros
Can Verlander become the 11th pitcher in MLB history to win three CY Young awards this year? If the 39-year-old can claim the 2022 award, he would join Roger Clemens (7), Randy Johnson (5), Greg Maddux (4), Steve Carlton (4), Max Scherzer (3), Clayton Kershaw (3), Pedro Martinez (3), Jim Palmer (3), Tom Seaver (3), and Sandy Koufax (3) as three-time winners.
Verlander has won six straight starts, going at least six innings and allowing two or fewer runs in each of those contests. He has surrendered three or more runs in five of his 19 games. The 2022 all-star owns a 14-3 record with a 1.81 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and .192 BAA in 19 starts over 124 innings. He is not the overpowering pitcher that he once was, but control is still a strong point for him. Giving up the long ball is his biggest weakness. Verlander ranks in the top 10 in the AL in most categories, leading the majors in wins and ERA.
3. Alex Manoah, Blue Jays
Manoah and the Blue Jays got good news when x-rays on the youngster’s arm came back negative after he was hit in the right elbow off a comebacker from the bat of Tigers’ Jonathan Schoop on Friday. He is slated to make his next scheduled start.
Like McClenahan, the big right-hander has taken massive steps in year two of his development. The only area he hasn’t improved is his strikeouts. Manoah is 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA, 0.992 WHIP, and .216 BAA in 126 innings over 20 starts.
4, Framber Valdez, Astros
Valdez finished 11th in CY Young voting in the shortened 2020 campaign and has been much better this year. The 28-year-old is not a power pitcher and does have issues with walks. However, he does not give up many home runs and fields his position exceptionally well.
Valdez leads the Junior circuit in innings pitched, home runs per 9 innings (0.4), and complete games (2). He is 9-4 with a 2.80 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a .214 BAA.
5. Dylan Cease, White Sox
Cease has followed a strong 2021 season by posting a career year thus far. The 26-year-old right-hander has been dominant over his last eight starts, holding opponents to one hit twice while recording at least seven strikeouts (six times, including reaching double-figures twice). He has won seven of 11 starts since June 1, giving up 13 runs during this stretch, including only three runs in July.
Cease is 11-4 on the year with a 2.01 ERA, .202 BAA, and 161 strikeouts. However, control has been an issue as he has issued 50 free passes, which has caused his WHIP (1.37) to be high and prevented him from going deep in games.
6. Nestor Cortes Jr., Yankees
The Cuban left-hander has arguably been the Yankees’ best pitcher this year despite a rocky June. While he has been pretty good all season, the 27-year-old has been nasty at Yankee Stadium and during day games. Cortes is 9-2 on the season with a 2.53 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, along with 111 strikeouts in 106.2 innings of work.
7. Martin Perez, Rangers
The 31-year-old lefty is arguably having the best season of his career. He is the only AL pitcher to throw a shutout this season and has limited his opponents to three runs over the last four games. Perez is 9-2 on the season with a 2.52 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, although opponents are hitting .232 against him.
8. Logan Gilbert, Mariners
Similar to the other two second-year starters on this list, Gilbert has improved since his rookie season. The 25-year-old right-hander has been much better on the road than at home, posting a 6-1 record with a 2.47 ERA though he is a little bit wilder away from home, registering 23 walks in 69.1 innings.
Cole Irvin, Frankie Montas, Triston McKenzie, and Gerritt Cole (no particular order).
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