Alek Manoah made his season debut for the Blue Jays last night and the talented right-hander picked up right where he left off from last year.
The 2021 campaign was a pretty remarkable rookie season for Manoah, as he ended up going 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.048 WHIP over 20 starts that covered 111.2 innings pitched. It was all the more impressive given his stiff competition in a playoff hungry AL East, and that he struck out 127 batters along the way. He was an instant fan favourite, and with good reason based on both his likeable personality, and his performance on the mound.
Manoah showed he belonged right from his MLB debut, as he threw 6.0 innings of shutout baseball against the New York Yankees. He held the Bronx Bombers to just two hits in that outing, and he did it in the intimidating atmosphere at Yankee stadium. Clearly Manoah wasn’t phased, and he found himself in a very similar situation to start a fresh season on Monday.
Once again the big righty wasn’t the least bit bothered by a talented opponent, and he gave the Blue Jays exactly what they needed. He was the first Blue Jays starter to finish six innings this year, and he did so while allowing just one hit. He struggled with his command at times, issuing four walks, but he navigated the danger and struck out seven Yankees in the process.
At this point it feels like Manoah is almost too good to be true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take anything away from the 24 year old, I’m just pleasantly surprised with how he continues to perform. Most young starters go through some growing pains as they adjust to the big leagues, and Manoah seems to have skipped that stage altogether. Every starter is going to go through their ups and downs over the course of a long 162 game season, but Manoah has already started off on a very positive note.
A while ago I wrote about why I believe we should keep our expectations in check for Manoah in 2022, and I still believe in what I wrote to a certain degree. Many sophomore big leaguers go through some struggles as the rest of the league adjusts to what they’re doing, and that’s often what separates the short-term success stories from the long-term stars. I’ve always believed that Manoah has sustainable star power, but I do expect that he’ll go through some struggles at some point. Having said that, Tuesday he took his first step toward proving me wrong, again.
I can’t go as far as saying that Manoah is too good to be true, because so far he just keeps proving me wrong.