Alek Manoah continues to make his early-season case for a Cy Young nod, and he is showing no sign of cooling down.
The sophomore Blue Jays starter powered his club to its 33rd victory of the season, working for six innings to lead Toronto over the Kansas City Royals 7-0. The win was Manoah’s 10th quality start of the season, tying him with San Diego’s Joe Musgrove for the Major League lead.
Manoah allowed six hits in the scoreless performance, which came under threat in the second, fifth and sixth innings as he allowed runners in scoring position. The sixth frame was especially dicey as he allowed a hit and two straight walks with two outs to load the bases, but he was able to leave the jam unscathed.
He was pulled before the start of the sixth inning with four strikeouts on the night, and the Jays held the Royals scoreless to give Manoah (7-1) his Major League-leading seventh win of the season. With the 24-year-old on the mound, the Jays hold an 8-3 record.
Manoah’s second season in the bigs has been nothing short of exemplary. After his win in Kansas City, his ERA dropped to 1.81, putting him even with Miami’s Sandy Alcantara for fourth in MLB. Additionally, his 2.4 wins above replacement knot him with Atlanta’s Max Fried for fifth in the bigs, per ESPN.
The WVU great is also one of the top pitchers according to MLB StatCast. According to Baseball Savant, hitters have a hard hit percentage of just 26.7 percent — the lowest in MLB — while they are barreling just 3.1 percent of their contacts — the third-lowest in the bigs. Manoah is top-10 in average exit velocity (87 MPH) and expected slugging percentage (.344).
Manoah’s strong start to 2022 put him in the early conversation for the AL Cy Young Award, according to MLB.com. With 107 games to go in the Blue Jays’ regular season, the race looks to be hotly contested with Houston’s Justin Verlander currently in the lead. According to Vegas Insider, Manoah is close behind his teammate Kevin Gausman with the sixth-best odds, while trailing three more division rivals in Nestor Cortes and Gerrit Cole of the Yankees, and Shane McClanahan of the Rays.
Seven games behind the Yankees (40-15) in the AL East, the Blue Jays (33-22) sit solidly in the top Wild Card spot in the American League.