Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah named AL Cy Young finalist

Alek Manoah was an absolute beast for the Blue Jays this year.
Alek Manoah was an absolute beast for the Blue Jays this year.

Alek Manoah is in the running for some major MLB hardware offseason.

The star Blue Jays pitcher was named one of three finalists up for the 2022 American League Cy Young Award on Monday, along with Chicago’s Dylan Cease and Houston’s Justin Verlander.

It's the second straight season a Blue Jays pitcher has been nominated for the award, with Robbie Ray winning it in 2021. Three other pitchers have won the award in franchise history, including Pat Hentgen (1996), Roger Clemens (1997 and 1998) and Roy Halladay (2003).

The 24-year-old Manoah, meanwhile, becomes the youngest Blue Jay to be nominated for a Cy Young, with Jimmy Key and Halladay both being selected during their age-26 seasons.

The 6-foot-6 hurler is coming off a brilliant 2022 season — his first full big-league campaign — where he posted career bests in starts (31), innings pitched (196.2), ERA (2.24), FIP (3.35), xFIP (3.98) and fWAR (4.1). He also threw at least five innings in all 31 starts.

In comparison, Manoah ranked third in ERA — behind Verlander and Cease — fourth in innings pitched and seventh in fWAR among qualified AL starters, according to FanGraphs.

Last season, Manoah registered a 3.22 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 4.17 xFIP, .191 OPP AVG and was worth 2.0 fWAR over 111.2 innings in 20 starts after making his MLB debut on May 27. He also produced a career-best 27.7 percent strikeout rate.

Toronto drafted Manoah 11th overall in 2019 and ultimately assigned him to low-A Vancouver, where he made six starts to conclude his first professional campaign. There, he recorded a 2.65 ERA and 2.48 FIP across 17.0 innings.

With the 2020 minor-league season cancelled, the youngster spent his summer training at the organization's alternate training site in Buffalo, which later moved to Rochester. He impressed everyone along the way, paving the way for his rapid arrival to the majors.

Before debuting in 2021, Manoah made a trio of starts with triple-A Buffalo, tossing 18.0 innings of one-run ball. He allowed seven hits, four hit-by-pitches and three walks while striking out seven batters.

Now, less than two years since arriving to the show, Manoah is aiming to capture his first of what’ll hopefully be many end-of-season awards with the Blue Jays.

The 2022 Cy Young Award winners for both leagues will be revealed on Nov. 16.

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