Manoah a Cy Young finalist after breakout year

November 8th, 2022

TORONTO -- has been named a finalist for the American League Cy Young Award, recognizing an exceptional season for the 24-year-old ace who has quickly established himself as a franchise cornerstone.

Manoah posted a 2.24 ERA for the Blue Jays in 2022, hauling 196 2/3 remarkably consistent innings. He is a finalist alongside Justin Verlander of the Astros and Dylan Cease of the White Sox.

Manoah’s value to the 2022 Blue Jays cannot be overstated. There were great expectations, of course, but as Hyun Jin Ryu went down with injury and José Berríos struggled to find his form throughout the year, it was Manoah who stepped boldly to the front of the rotation alongside Kevin Gausman. While his AL Wild Card Series start against the Mariners was more of a learning experience than he’d hoped, without Manoah, the Blue Jays may not have reached that stage at all.

This big right-hander’s rise has been so sudden, but he’s rarely stumbled. In Spring Training of 2021, Manoah was one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, but still expected to be a year away. At the time, the best-case scenario seemed to be a run at a bullpen spot late in the season. Then, he started mowing down big league stars in Grapefruit League games.

Manoah’s timeline was accelerated drastically, getting the call to the Majors after just three dominant starts in Triple-A. In his rookie year, he posted a 3.22 ERA over 111 2/3 innings, but the signs of him becoming a workhorse were evident from Day 1. Manoah is built to eat innings, towering over nearly all of his teammates and incredibly strong. But it’s his mentality that makes Manoah special.

Like a heavyweight boxer who takes the first jab of the fight and smiles back, Manoah has an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion the instant a runner reaches base. This earned him the full trust of manager Charlie Montoyo, then John Schneider when the Blue Jays made a change midseason. No moment seemed too large for Manoah, who manages to balance his larger-than-life energy with an ability to take a breath at the right time.

What Manoah brings to this Cy Young Award debate is a mix of quality and quantity. As fewer and fewer pitchers are even approaching 200 innings, let alone reaching it, workhorses capable of throwing to a 2.24 ERA have grown even more valuable. On any given night at Rogers Centre, the eight or nine biggest Manoah fans in the building were the Blue Jays’ relievers, knowing they could relax until the sixth or seventh inning.

Manoah will be in tough competition against Verlander, of course, who is the presumed favorite here. The World Series champion returned from Tommy John surgery with a dominant season, posting a 1.75 ERA over 175 innings. Cease’s year is worthy of this spot as a finalist, too, as the right-hander pitched to a 2.20 ERA over 184 innings. The winner will be announced as part of BBWAA Awards Week on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

The Blue Jays have five Cy Young Awards in their history, and you only need to look to last season to find Robbie Ray’s. The hard-throwing lefty had a 2.84 ERA over 193 1/3 innings before signing with the Mariners this past offseason.

Manoah has plenty of time left in Toronto, though, and with a top-three finish in the Cy Young Award voting this season -- his finish to be determined -- he’s establishing himself as one off the brightest young stars in the game.