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2022, the Year of the Latino Pitcher

Sandy Alcantara, Julio Urias, Edwin Diaz, Cristian Javier are a few of the Latino pitchers who shone in 2022

Entering the 2022 season, it had been 12 years since a pitcher from Latin America won the American League Cy Young Award. The drought was even longer in the National League, where it had been 25 years since Pedro Martinez won the NL Cy Young.

Yet, midway through the 2022 season, the Miami Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara had already taken the pole position for the NL Cy Young Award. The lanky, hard-throwing righthander had plenty of company among Latino pitchers who shone in 2022, though.

In fact, 2022 was the Year of the Latino Pitcher. Dodgers lefthander Julio Urias became the first native of Mexico to win an ERA title, leading the NL with a 2.16 ERA. Three of the six finalists for the NL and AL Cy Young Awards had Latino roots.

Urias, 26, finished third in the NL Cy Young race. Toronto Blue Jays righthander Alek Manoah, 24, finished third in the AL Cy Young race.

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Manoah, the grandson of Cuba natives, earned his first All-Star berth in 2022. He finished the season with a 16-7 record and 2.24 ERA.

Astros righthander Justin Verlander earned the AL Cy Young. He had plenty of help from Dominican Republic pitchers leading the Astros’ rotation, though. 

Quality start record for Framber Valdez

Astros lefthander Framber Valdez, a native of Sabana Grande de Palenque, set the major league, single-season record with 25 consecutive quality starts. He finished the season with a 17-6 record and 2.82 ERA. Valdez also earned the decision at Dodger Stadium in his first All-Star Game appearance.

More importantly, Valdez earned two of the Astros’ four victories in the World Series. He posted a 1.46 ERA in the Fall Classic, holding the Phillies to six hits and two runs over 12 ⅓ innings.

Only one starting pitcher in the World Series had a better ERA than Valdez. That was fellow Dominican Cristian Javier, who threw six hitless innings in Game 4 against the Phillies.

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Javier started the Astros’ combined no-hitter against the Phillies, issuing two walks over six innings. Fellow Dominican Bryan Abreu then struck out the side in the seventh. Another Dominican righthander, Rafael Montero, took care of the eighth. Ryan Pressly handled the ninth to complete only the second no-hitter in World Series history. 

It was the first Fall Classic no-hitter since the Yankees’ Don Larsen threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  

The World Series gem actually was the second combined no-hitter Javier started in 2022. He pitched seven hitless innings on June 25 against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. On that afternoon, fellow Dominican righthander Hector Neris pitched the eighth before Pressly closed out the no-hitter.

Year of the Latino Pitcher and no-hitters

Heck, 2022 can also be considered the year of the combined no-hitter by Latinos. Three Latinos helped the Mets complete a five-pitcher no-hitter against the Phillies on April 29.

After Tylor Megill threw five innings and Drew Smith added one inning, Dominican lefty Joely Rodriguez threw a hitless inning. Righthander Seth Lugo, who has Puerto Rican roots, added two-thirds of a hitless inning. Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth to complete the no-hitter and earn his fourth save of the season.

Diaz, a native of Naguabo, Puerto Rico, is a major reason 2022 was the Year of the Latino Pitcher. He was 3-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 32 saves over 61 appearances.

Diaz earned the Trevor Hoffman Reliever of the Year Award, which goes to the best reliever in the NL. He earned that award four years after earning the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award in the AL.

Hard-throwing Cleveland righthander Emmanue Clase earned the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award. The native of Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic, led the majors with 42 saves.  

It had been 12 years since Venezuela’s Felix Hernandez became the last pitcher from Latin America to win a Cy Young Award. It was even longer since Pedro Martinez became the last native of Latin America to win the NL Cy Young. Alcantara ended that drought.

If 2022 was any indication, there won’t be such a long drought between Alcantara’s Cy Young win and the next Latino Cy Young Award winner. As we finish the Year of the Latino Pitcher, you can bet Alcantara, Javier, Valdez and Urias will make a run at the 2023 NL and AL Cy Young Awards.

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