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Manoah Gets Rocked In Return To Blue Jays, Lose 11-8 vs. Nats

Former Cy Young finalist and Blue Jays ace starter Alek Manoah Hasn’t pitched for Toronto since August of last year, after struggling throughout the season. After coming off of a dominant 2022 season, in 2023 we saw a heavy regression from Manoah where he would string multiple outings with many runs given up that ultimately lost his team games. Because of his struggles, the Blue Jays sent Manoah to the team’s complex league in Florida where in his first start he gave up 11 runs. Manoah was only able to get through 2 2/3 innings before getting removed from the game. This was certainly not what anyone wanted for Manoah and was a scary sight for Jays fans as the Florida Complex League was comprised of mainly teenagers in the teams farm system, with their goals to simply get higher level competition and further develop their skills on their way to the big leagues. However, despite his bad outing the team promoted Manoah to Double-A New Hampshire about a week later. In his one game in Double-A, Manoah gave a surprisingly good performance going five whole innings and only allowing one run.

After giving a solid outing in Double-A, it was apparently enough for the team to bring Manoah back to the major league roster, and make his first start back as a member of the blue Jays. His first start back would take place on July 7, and would be tasked with taking on the Detroit Tigers. All of the anticipation and pressure was on Alek Manoah going into this game, from being an all-star the year before to falling off a mountain in half a year, everyone needed a good outing from Manoah. Thankfully, a good outing is exactly what Manoah delivered by going six innings only giving up one run and tallying 8 K’s. The Blue Jays defeated the Tigers 11-2, and Manoah proved to everyone that to him, “pressure is something you put in your tires”. With his return out of the way, Manoah could finally focus on pitching at the highest level. He finished the 2023 season after pitching in another five games, and Toronto ended up winning three of those five. Despite only pitching over six innings in one of his final 5 games, Manoah still performed well and helped Toronto obtain some crucial wins at the end of the year.

With the 2023 season over, everyone was looking towards the following season and if Manoah would be able to get back to form and continue from his solid finish from the year prior. But sadly, by the start of the 2024 season Manoah was nowhere to be found in the Blue Jays opening rotation, instead finding himself starting the year down in Triple-A Buffalo. In his place, Toronto opted to go with Bowden Francis to fill that final spot in the rotation to begin the year, and switched to using Yariel Rodriguez later. However, with both Francis and Rodriguez going down with injuries, Toronto decided to bring in Manoah to start for them on May 5, against the Washington Nationals. Once again all eyes were on Manoah and fans were relying on him to put on a clinic to help get the win. Unfortunately, unlike his comeback game in 2023, this game against Washington was ugly and hard to watch for fans and for Manoah. After only four innings into the outing, the Nationals managed to score seven runs with Manoah being responsible for six of them. The Blue Jays pulled him out of the game and went to the bullpen, and the Jays ultimately lost the game 11-8.

There is no doubt that Manoah cost his team the win, the bats were alive in this game and Toronto was going against a Nationals team that they should have beat. If Manoah was able to keep his composure and not allow those runs, Toronto surely wins this game and the doubts about Alek Manoah go away for the meantime. Instead, those doubts are further instilled and the Jays now need to figure out if they want to stick with him or go in a different direction in regards of keeping Manoah in the rotation and even keep him on the team. Clearly Manoah is still not ready to pitch in the big leagues, and it is obvious he is frustrated by it after being such a big contributor for the team just two years ago. Regardless of what happens in the future, and if Manoah continues to make starts for the Jays this season, work with him needs to be done and he’ll need to figure out his mechanics in order to be effective once again at the big league level. If he’s unable to, I see a real possible scenario where he is moved from the Blue Jays and may never be the same pitcher he once was again. Obviously, this is something me and no other Jays fans want to see, since just two years ago we were calling Manoah one of the faces of the franchise in Toronto, and hoped he could stay with the team long term and maybe even win a Cy Young award. Now the narrative has completely flipped and the only one who can fix this situation is Manoah himself, and time will only tell if he can really handle the pressure or if he will ultimately succumb to it.


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