Home News Alek Manoah optioned to Florida Complex League

Alek Manoah optioned to Florida Complex League

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TORONTO – The Blue Jays just hit the reset button on Alek Manoah

The organization optioned its Opening Day starter to the Florida Complex League Tuesday, a day after he was rocked for six runs and recorded just one out against the Astros to balloon his ERA to 6.36.

It’s been a stunning two months for a pitcher who finished third in American League Cy Young Award voting just a season ago. Not only did Manoah look like a modern, front-line workhorse, he quickly emerged as one of the faces of the franchise, a cornerstone that rotations would be built around for years.

Instead, Manoah’s “early struggles” eventually became more serious, with his mental game and delivery caught in a fight that neither could win. Manoah was no longer attacking hitters with the aggressive approach that so perfectly matched his larger-than-life demeanor on the mound, and you quickly saw that the big right-hander is simply not built to be a pitcher who nibbles at the edges.

“We’ve got to continue to do what’s best for him to help him get better,” manager John Schneider said after Monday’s 11-4 loss to Houston. “That’s what we’re going to do, starting tonight and moving forward. That’s been our focus the whole time, so we’ll continue to do that.”

What’s best for Manoah, the Blue Jays have decided, is to step out of the blazing spotlight to get this right. 

The Florida Complex League isn’t just a step, though. It’s a million miles away. 

Geography matters, though, and Manoah is essentially being sent back to where it all began in Spring Training. The Blue Jays’ sprawling, shiny new complex houses all of the technology and resources a struggling pitcher could dream of, which should allow Manoah to come along at his own pace. There, he’ll be able to pitch in FCL games – potentially Single-A Dunedin games eventually – which is closer to what a starter would do during Spring Training.

This is so far from what anyone expected in 2023, but the Blue Jays are adjusting to the new reality on the fly. Bowden Francis has been recalled, representing a potential option to take Manoah’s place in the rotation, but Toronto’s pitching depth is not built to handle much more pressure than this. Until now, Toronto had been the only MLB club to use just five starters. 

The time may come when, as with Roy Halladay, this is a fascinating note in a long, storied career. Manoah is certainly capable of making that happen. For now, though, it represents a full reset for both the Blue Jays and one of their biggest stars.

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