Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah burst on the big league stage last year and produced a solid rookie season, going 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA through 20 starts and 111.2 innings of work. Fast forward a year later and “Big Puma” is only getting better, as the Florida product was named as a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award after an impressive 2022 season.
Collecting 16 wins and cementing himself as one of the top arms in the Blue Jays rotation this season, Manoah turned away any doubts of a potential sophomore slump and authored a 2.24 ERA through 196.2 innings, striking out 180 batters to the tune of an 8.2 K/9 while limiting opposing teams to a .582 OPS on the season.
He was still a bit wild on the mound at times, plunking 15 batters on the season, but limited the free passes to just a 2.3 BB/9 and pushed the boundaries and wasn’t afraid to challenge opposing hitters and pitchers when needed (Audi signs can’t stop the Blue Jays starter).
The 6’6″ West Virginia University alum posted a 4.1 fWAR on the season and led the Blue Jays in numerous categories including innings pitched, WHIP (0.992), and wins (16). Manoah also earned his first All-Star appearance, striking out three with teammate Alejandro Kirk behind the plate. He also achieved accolades off the field, defending Kirk on social media and further cementing himself as a fan favourite in Toronto.
He was the go-to pitcher for the Blue Jays for Game 1 of the AL Wild Card and while he did struggle through the first inning, he settled down and got through 5.2 innings but unfortunately had to contend with a masterclass showing from Mariners starter Luis Castillo.
Overall, Alek Manoah has quickly become one of the top arms in the league and has rightfully earned an opportunity to contend for the AL Cy Young Award. He will be in tough against the other two nominees in White Sox starter Dylan Cease and Astros right-hander Justin Verlander but Manoah has no doubt earned the right to be classified as one of the top starters this year.
He joins former Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray, who took home the honour last season, and southpaw Hyun Jin Ryu back in 2020 as recent Jays’ nominees for the Cy Young Award.
Results will be announced on Wednesday, November 16th at 6:00 pm EST.