Blue Jays Top Pitching Prospect Makes Debut – How Good is Alek Manoah?

By Anthony Haage in Sports
| June 3, 2021 9:34 am PDT

Alek Manoah made his highly anticipated debut for the Blue Jays on May 27th, in the first game of a doubleheader.

The 11th overall pick in 2019 dominated the Yankees in 6 innings and added 7 strikeouts with only 2 hits and 2 walks allowed. He got 4 outs from groundballs and 6 from flyballs against the Yankees lineup, minus Giancarlo Stanton.

There was plenty of heartwarming moments as well, as Manoah’s family was there in Yankee Stadium and made sure Alek heard their support.

About Alek Manoah

Manoah utilizes his fastball (94.8 MPH on average), slider, sinker and changeup and in terms of Runs Above Average per 100 pitches, his best pitch was his slider.

His slider rated at a wSL/C of 6.15, granted it was only one start, but Yu Darvish has the best-rated slider of qualified pitchers at a wSL/C of 5.50.

Manoah certainly has the talent to be a top-end starter in the Blue Jays rotation long-term, with immediate impact starting now.

In the minors, Manoah pitched in 2019 and 2021, with a collective ERA of 1.54, and the gap in 2020 did not seem to slow his progress in
his development.

He started 9 games in the minors, with 3 wins, 1 loss, and 5 no-decisions. He only allowed opposing hitters to hit for a .167 average, with 54 strikeouts in 35 innings.

The 23-year-old from West Virginia appears to be ready to stay in the Blue Jays’ rotation and help them make a push from the playoffs. Manoah has a chance to join Hyun Jin Ryu, Steven Matz, Robbie Ray, and Ross Stripling.

It appears that Manoah is replacing Anthony Kay for the fifth spot in the rotation after Kay was placed on the IL with a blister on his throwing hand. Manoah certainly made a strong case to steal that spot from Kay after his first start.

Manoah was initially supposed to start the game on Wednesday, but that game ended up being postponed and he made his start Thursday.

Assessing Manoah’s Impact

Currently sitting in 4th in the AL East, the Blue Jays have an uphill battle for the playoffs. The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox make up one of the toughest divisions in baseball and will make the Blue Jays earn it.

The Blue Jays are currently 6.5 GB of the Tampa Bay Rays and should prepare for a run at the Wild Card as they are unlikely to earn first place in one of the toughest divisions in baseball.

The current division leaders in the AL include the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, and Oakland Athletics.

If the regular season were to end today, the Wild Card teams would be the Astros and the Red Sox.

According to fangraphs.com, the Blue Jays have a 47.6% chance to make the playoffs which isn’t ideal for them, but it doesn’t mean they are completely ruled out yet.

If Alek Manoah can prove that he was worth the Blue Jays’ high draft pick, he could be a difference-maker in the postseason race. The Blue Jays certainly have the firepower on offense, but it is going to come down to run prevention.

They currently have a team ERA of 3.91, which is tied for 13th lowest in the league paired with 3rd highest rated offense, in terms of OPS+ at 112.

The Blue Jays have suffered some unfortunate injuries when it comes to their bullpen, with losses of Kirby Yates, Ken Giles, Thomas Hatch, David Phelps, and Travis Bergen.

What Now for the Blue Jays?

Manoah showing that he is talented enough to stay in the rotation only creates good problems for the Blue Jays.

It is always a positive thing if your team has “too many” good pitchers that you don’t know who is going to be in the starting rotation or the bullpen.

If the Blue Jays opt to keep Manoah in the rotation, that might bump Anthony Kay to the bullpen when he returns from the injured list.

Manoah should be on the watch list as a dark-horse rookie of the year candidate and a good fantasy baseball player as well.

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