Pitching is the most important aspect of the game since the ball comes from the pitcher's hand to start any action. A good outing can shut down the opposing team, and with little offensive production, a team can win if its man on the mound is dominant.
The end of the 2022 regular season is approaching, and we take a look at the Cy Young Award scenario, which recognizes the best pitcher in the American and National Leagues.
While there are several candidates for the award in the National League, only one stands out above the rest: Dominican Sandy Alcantara of the Marlins.
The Dodgers' Julio Urias has entered the conversation after a great season, leading the league in ERA with a 2.27 and 17 games won. The Mexican has 152 strikeouts in 158.2 innings pitched, which is a good ratio. In his last seven starts, the left-hander has a 6-1 record with a 1.47 ERA and 43 strikeouts in the same number of innings pitched, raising his hand as a Cy Young candidate.
Max Fried is another interesting, though less relevant name in the Cy Young race. The Braves pitcher maintains a low 2.52 ERA with 159 strikeouts in 175 IP.
If we talk about Sandy Alcantara, his season in 2022 has been magnificent.
The Marlins pitcher has thrown five complete games and one shutout so far this season, while Urias and Fried have yet to complete a game in 2022. With 188 strikeouts, he is ahead of Julio Urias by 36. Although the Dodgers' Mexican has more wins (17 vs. 13), we must consider that he belongs to the winningest team of the season, while Alcantara is backed by one of the worst sides in the National League, so winning or losing doesn't depend on him to a great extent.
NL Cy Young Award Prediction: Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins)
Although we have seen pitchers with good performances, what Justin Verlander is doing at the age of 39 is worthy of admiration, even more so, coming off Tommy John surgery, which prevented him from pitching in all of 2021.
The Virginia native is posting an absurd 1.78 ERA in 157 innings pitched. His ability to come back and dominate after an injury as damaging as a forearm strain was in doubt, and the truth is that Verlander is on his way to winning his third Cy Young Award, after achieving it in 2011 and 2019.
Yes, Verlander (163) may be far behind Gerrit Cole (236), Dylan Cease (214) and Shohei Ohtani (196) in terms of strikeouts. However, this is about winning and the Astros pitcher has dominated any offense in the league, also leading in the games-won department with 17.
At this point, Justin Verlander is being batted for an average of just .185 and has allowed barely 27 walks in 157 innings pitched. The Astros' right-hander is like a fine wine; the more years go by, the better the quality.
AL Cy Young Award Prediction: Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)