The 2022 MLB season has been full of surprises.
Many MLB top talents have struggled to establish themselves in the bigs, such as Jarred Kelenic, Jo Adell, Bobby Witt Jr, Mitch Keller, and others.
Some of the pre-season favorites, such as the Toronto Blue Jays, the Atlanta Braves, and the Seattle Mariners, are struggling; while the Minnesota Twins, the Los Angeles Angels, and the San Diego Padres are shockingly leading their divisions.
Individually, there have been excellent pitching performance all around the league, but two pitchers are catching most eyes because of their respective backgrounds: Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros and Nestor Cortes Jr. of the New York Yankees.
Verlander has a 1.38 ERA; while Cortes’ mark is 1.35.
“That Justin Verlander-Nestor Cortes Jr. Cy Young battle will be a doozy,” MLB insider Jon Heyman tweeted.
That Justin Verlander-Nestor Cortes Jr. Cy Young battle will be a doozy
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 15, 2022
Two Unlikely Cy Young Candidates
It was intended as a joke with some seriousness, but it could actually be the opposite: it’s a more serious statement than we realize.
Verlander is a 39-year-old pitcher coming off major surgery: being a Cy Young contender wasn’t impossible, but it was very unlikely.
Cortes is a career journeyman with a 91 mph fastball and an off pitching profile.
However, with impeccable command, the ability to change speeds and release points, and a varied arsenal, he is making it work.
Those two could very well be the favorites to lift the AL Cy Young award when all is said and done.
What Heyman’s tweet omitted is the fact that Kevin Gausman leads the AL in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), that Dylan Cease is having a full breakout season for the Chicago White Sox, and that Tarik Skubal of the Detroit Tigers is maturing right before our eyes.
Still, Cortes and Verlander are definitely in the thick of things.