Home News Alek Manoah’s struggles continue in loss to Astros

Alek Manoah’s struggles continue in loss to Astros

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Alek Manoah’s struggles continue in loss to Astros

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3:52 AM UTC

TORONTO — For two months, Alek Manoah has been careening all over the road, barely staying within those white and yellow lines.

Monday night at Rogers Centre, he may have finally crashed.

Manoah recorded just one out, allowing six runs on seven hits including a grand slam. The 11-4 loss to the Astros seemed like a blur from there, with the teams combining for 31 hits that you’ll barely remember. Even with how Manoah’s 2023 season has gone, it will never feel normal to see these things happening.

Even the organization has to be blindsided by this. The coming days will bring major decisions, but for now, the Blue Jays are just focused on supporting their Opening Day starter who may need time in the Minor Leagues just two months later.

“We’ve got to continue to do what’s best for him to help him get better,” manager John Schneider said. “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.”

The hardest part, Manoah said after watching his ERA balloon to 6.36, was letting down his teammates.

“They reminded me that they all have my back, that we’re all in this together, that they love me and want me to do well,” Manoah said. “It’s very encouraging to hear that.”

The end result from another long night — and perhaps another long week — is asking what comes next.

Toronto’s pitching depth offers no hero, no knight in shining armor to ride in and save the day. Only Manoah can do that, which will take work. Now, it’s a question of where that work happens.

“As of now, we’re not sitting here making plans for anything, but doing everything we can do for him means using every resource that we have, using the staff and using his teammates to help him through it,” Schneider said. “When I say that everything is on the table, yeah, everything is. We’re just trying to help him get back to the caliber of pitcher that he was.”

Let’s get one thing out of the way: giving Manoah “the Roy Halladay treatment” is easier said than done. It’s also far more complicated. Halladay was sent to Single-A ahead of the 2001 season to rebuild his delivery, coming off a brutal ‘00 season after he’d had success the year prior. We’re talking about two different pitchers, though, not to mention two different people and two different eras of pitching development. This is a moving target, too, as the Blue Jays scramble to stay competitive, not a decision made over the course of an offseason and camp.

1. Option Manoah to Triple-A: This is clean and easy. Manoah can work on what ails him with lower stakes and outside of the blazing spotlight. Whether he needs two weeks or two months is up to him.

2. An IL stint: If there is any physical issue facing Manoah that can, within reason, qualify him for an IL stint, now could be the time. This allows him to slowly build up with a rehab assignment when that time comes. For pitchers, a rehab assignment can last 30 days from when it officially begins.

3. A new-age “Halladay”: The Blue Jays have a pitching lab at their Dunedin complex with more computers than an Apple factory. One example of its value was last season, when No. 1 prospect Ricky Tiedemann spent a month on the “Development List” while he worked with the team’s staff at the complex. This would need to happen alongside Manoah pitching in Single-A games, but this is all to say: there’s more to Dunedin than just starting every fifth day.

Three options for the Blue Jays

1. Bowden Francis: The 27-year-old righty has been lined up with Manoah’s schedule recently and threw 74 pitches his last time out. Francis is not on the 40-man roster, but should lead the conversation if the Blue Jays need a starter to cover a few outings.

2. Triple-A veterans: Drew Hutchison recently opted out of his deal, leaving the Blue Jays with options like Casey Lawrence (5.81 ERA) and Zach Thompson (6.89 ERA) in Triple-A. That doesn’t inspire much optimism.

3. The bulk barn: Mitch White is deep into a rehab assignment and capable of pitching multiple innings. Thomas Hatch and Trent Thornton, along with Thompson, are on the 40-man roster. Trevor Richards can give the Blue Jays two or three. A two or three-headed “starter” could work for two weeks, but it’s not a long-term solution.



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