The first month of the season saw plenty of surprise breakouts in addition to the usual suspects living up to their lofty hype. A's starter Sean Manaea -- touted this spring to potentially have a breakout season -- tossed the Majors' first no-hitter of 2018, and Max Scherzer -- the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner -- picked up right where he left off.
On Wednesday, Scherzer and Manaea were named the NL and American League Pitchers of the Month.
• Past winners:AL | NL
It's the third time Scherzer has been honored, all with the Nationals, while it's the first for Manaea, who was named the AL Co-Player of the Week for the week ending on April 22 after tossing the no-no against the Red Sox, becoming the first pitcher to no-hit the Majors' top offense entering that day since 1990, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Including his start on March 30, Manaea led the AL in ERA (1.03), wins (four) and batting average against (.134), allowing two or fewer runs in each of his six starts. And the third-year lefty is getting by without wipeout velocity or significant swing-and-miss stuff. His 24.5 percent whiff rate is less than the league average, and he's averaging just 90.3 mph on his four-seam fastball, which he utilizes more than half the time. But batters haven't been able to truly exploit Manaea's repertoire this season, which also includes a changeup and a slider.
"It's definitely not easy," Manaea said after his most recent start on Friday, an 8-1 win over the Astros. "Just putting in the work and trying to be as prepared as best as I can. Whenever you can get things going on a roll and have some success, it makes the little things a bit easier. But it's still hard just trying to think about what you want to do and be prepared."
Scherzer has already begun campaigning for his third straight NL Cy Young Award, following a month in which he led the NL in strikeouts (57) and wins (4), while posting the NL's fourth-best ERA (1.62), WHIP (.082) and opposing batting average (.165).
The veteran right-hander has been one of the few bright spots for a Washington club that entered Wednesday two games under .500 and in fourth place, 4 1/2 games out of first in the NL East. The Nats have won five of Scherzer's six starts, accounting for more than one-third of their total victories.