Drafted by the club in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Manoah only had 17.0 innings at the professional level heading into the 2021 campaign after the minor league season was canceled last year. He did get named to the alternate training site for the 2020 campaign, where he continued to develop and impressed the front office, taking advantage of what would have been a lost season.
After dominating during Spring Training and through three starts in AAA, the Blue Jays needed him in the big leagues and he did not disappoint. Standing at 6’6″, Manoah was dominant on the mound, starting with his debut against the New York Yankees in their home barn and finishing the year with a 3.22 ERA through 20 starts, striking out 127 batters through 111.2 innings while crafting a 10.2 K/9 and a 1.048 WHIP.
While he didn’t make his debut until late May, Manoah surely has a spot in the starting rotation for Opening Day next year alongside Hyun Jin Ryu and Jose Berrios, with it yet to be determined if Steven Matz or Robbie Ray will be returning. With the Florida product slated to begin the season in the Major Leagues, this could be a huge difference-maker for the Blue Jays over the course of a full season.
Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah had a successful rookie campaign, and with a full season of him next year in the Major Leagues, the playoffs may just be within reach for the organization.
If he stays healthy throughout the 2022 campaign, Manoah will be making anywhere between 28-32 starts, and while it would be a tall order to guarantee a low 3.00 ERA from a young pitcher entering his second season, if the West Virginia alum can continue to pitch well and improve upon his rookie campaign, those few extra wins he generates could be one reason why the Blue Jays make the playoffs next year.
He is not the only reason the club would reach the postseason next year, as the young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette mixed with the veterans in Ryu and George Springer will need to play well alongside Manoah, but having him pitch 8-10 extra starts next season sets them up for more success compared to throwing out a fringe starter or using five bullpen arms to get you through a game. The club still needs to find two starters to fill out the rotation if Matz and Ray leave this offseason but having three guaranteed starters will go a long way for a club that was so close this year.
While he may not take home the Rookie of the Year award, Alek Manoah was one of the biggest and best surprises this season in the Blue Jays rotation. With a full season of the big man in the starting five next year, the club could be playing meaningful baseball in October if he can recreate his rookie season stats throughout a full 162 game schedule.