Shane McClanahan and Justin Verlander in Duel for AL Cy Young Award
In the race for the American League Cy Young Award, two pitchers with vastly different backgrounds are emerging as top contenders. Veteran Justin Verlander, a two-time Cy Young winner, and newcomer Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays are expected to go head-to-head in the second half of the 2022 season.
McClanahan’s Remarkable Rise
Despite being in only his second year in the majors, McClanahan has quickly gained attention as a favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award. With improved control and an impressive repertoire, he has shown immense growth from his rookie season. In 2022, McClanahan boasts a remarkable 9-3 record, leading the league with a stellar 1.74 ERA and tallying 133 strikeouts. His performance has positioned him as a strong candidate for the All-Star Game.
Speaking highly of McClanahan’s achievements, Tampa Bay pitching coach Kyle Snyder believes that he deserves the award over Verlander and other contenders. Snyder emphasizes McClanahan’s exceptional performance in the first half of the season, asserting, “If youâ€™re looking at who’s done what in the first half of this year â€“ if thatâ€™s the criteria, which Iâ€™m guessing it should be â€“ I think Shaneâ€™s been the best pitcher.”
One significant factor contributing to McClanahan’s success has been his diverse and formidable pitching arsenal. With four plus pitches, including a powerful fastball and unhittable breaking balls, he has consistently perplexed opposing hitters. However, the most notable improvement in McClanahan’s game has been his commitment to minimizing walks. His walk rate has significantly dropped from 2.7 per nine innings in 2021 to just 1.6 this year.
Expressing his determination to cut down on walks, McClanahan acknowledged the guidance and opportunities provided by the Rays organization. He emphasized his gratitude, stating, “Luckily, I have the opportunity to work with Kyle Snyder and everybody in this Rays organization, and theyâ€™ve given me the opportunities to prove myself, and Iâ€™m very thankful for that.”
Verlander’s Resurgence After Injury
On the other hand, Verlander has made a remarkable comeback after missing the entire 2021 season due to injury. Displaying impressive form, the 39-year-old veteran has delivered performances reminiscent of his prime. In 15 starts, Verlander boasts a 10-3 record and a stellar 2.03 ERA over 97.1 innings. Leading the league in wins and ranking second in ERA, Verlander has once again proven himself as a dominant force in the Houston Astros’ pitching staff.
While Verlander’s strikeout numbers may not be as high as in previous seasons, he has adapted his game to focus on getting outs effectively. Despite his lengthy career, Verlander continues to strive for longevity, making a conscious effort to listen to medical professionals and manage his body’s condition throughout the season. By being cautious and attentive to his physical well-being, Verlander aims to maintain his high level of performance.
Currently, Verlander ranks eighth in the American League in innings pitched, hinting at a possible reduction in workload before the playoffs. However, there is also the potential for an increase in innings pitched as Verlander aims to pitch regularly on a fifth-day schedule. Expressing his intentions, Verlander stated, “I plan on getting there. I think I did it three or four times in the first half. The only thing I havenâ€™t done is gone repetitious five days.”
Other Contenders in the Race
While McClanahan and Verlander lead the pack in the Cy Young race, a few other pitchers are closely trailing them. Gerrit Cole, with odds of +850, remains a strong contender due to his impressive 7-2 record and a solid 2.99 ERA for the first-place New York Yankees. Additionally, Shohei Ohtani, who is not only vying for the AL Cy Young but also in contention for the MVP award, has a compelling record of 7-4 and an impressive 2.68 ERA, positioning him among the league’s top pitchers.
As the second half of the 2022 season unfolds, the race for the American League Cy Young Award intensifies. Shane McClanahan, with his remarkable progression and exceptional performance, stands as a formidable candidate against the veteran prowess of Justin Verlander. With improved control, a diverse arsenal of pitches, and an impressive record, McClanahan has emerged as a favorite for the award. Meanwhile, Verlander’s triumphant return from injury, his dominant form, and his experience add to the compelling narrative of this Cy Young battle. As the season progresses, all eyes will be on these two talented pitchers, along with a few other contenders, as they strive to outperform each other and claim the prestigious AL Cy Young title.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: How has McClanahan improved his performance in his second year in the majors?
A1: In his sophomore year, McClanahan has made significant strides in his game. Notably, he has improved his control, reducing his walk rate from 2.7 per nine innings in 2021 to just 1.6 this year. Additionally, McClanahan has diversified his pitching repertoire, boasting four plus pitches, including a powerful fastball and unhittable breaking balls. These improvements have contributed to his outstanding performance, making him a strong contender for the Cy Young Award.
Q2: What makes Verlander a dominant force despite his age?
A2: Verlander’s dominance can be attributed to his exceptional skill set, experience, and resilient mindset. Despite being 39 years old, he continues to display remarkable form, leading the league in wins and ranking second in ERA. While his strikeout numbers may have slightly decreased, Verlander has adapted his game to focus on effectiveness and finding ways to get outs. Moreover, his cautious approach to managing his body’s condition and listening to medical professionals contributes to his longevity and unwavering performance.
Q3: Who are the other notable contenders for the AL Cy Young Award?
A3: Alongside McClanahan and Verlander, there are a few other pitchers in contention for the coveted AL Cy Young Award. Gerrit Cole, with his impressive 7-2 record and a 2.99 ERA for the New York Yankees, remains a strong contender. Additionally, Shohei Ohtani, who is also aiming for the AL MVP award, showcases remarkable pitching skills with a record of 7-4 and a stellar 2.68 ERA. These talented pitchers add depth and excitement to the race for the Cy Young title.
Q4: How does McClanahan’s pitching arsenal contribute to his success?
A4: McClanahan’s diverse pitching arsenal plays a fundamental role in his success on the field. With a powerful fastball and an array of unhittable breaking balls, he consistently baffles opposing hitters. The variety of pitches at his disposal keeps batters off balance and increases the difficulty of making solid contact. This diverse repertoire, combined with improved control, has elevated McClanahan’s performance and established him as a strong contender for the Cy Young Award.
Q5: Will Verlander’s workload be managed before the playoffs to ensure his readiness?
A5: As Verlander continues his impressive comeback from injury, managing his workload becomes a crucial aspect to maintain his performance and readiness for the playoffs. While currently ranking eighth in the American League in innings pitched, there is a possibility that his workload may be reduced to protect his arm and avoid overexertion. On the other hand, a strategic increase in innings pitched is also a potential approach, as Verlander aims to pitch regularly on a fifth-day schedule. The final decision will consider Verlander’s well-being and the team’s playoff aspirations.