Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah has experienced a lot of success since making his big-league debut last year.
Right from the start, Manoah showed that not only was he capable of pitching at the highest level, but that he was ready to dominate.
There was considerable pressure on the young man from the get-go. His first start came at Yankee Stadium with a desperate need to provide starting pitching depth after the staff was marred by injuries and ineffectiveness over much of the season‘s first two months.
Blue Jays: Manoah Mania
Sportsnet’s TV cameras kept picking up the emotional reactions of Manoah’s family members following strikeouts during his big league debut. They were overwhelmed and who could blame them? Manoah was sensational, allowing just two hits, both singles while striking out seven batters over six shutout innings.
Interestingly enough, none of Manoah’s next five starts yielded a decision, although he pitched the required number of innings in three of them. That stretch of games also featured Manoah’s first career ejection in a wild game against the Baltimore Orioles.
That tendency to hit batters and sometimes not pitch deep into games would surface throughout the season, but Manoah has proven to be a valuable addition to the rotation.
He’s young, brash, and a physical presence on the mound who exudes confidence. He’s also a cost-effective option at a key position, which is a good thing considering the starting five also features big-name, big-money pitchers in Jose Berrios ($18.7 million per year), Kevin Gausman ($22M), and Hyun-Jin Ryu ($20M).
Blue Jays: Manoah among legends already
After finishing last season by winning his last four starts, Manoah has carried that success into 2022. Not only has he won all four of his starts, but he’s also been extremely stingy in giving up hits and runs, surrendering just 15 hits and four earned runs over his 25 innings pitched.
That winning run has the young phenom on the verge of a pair of prestigious Blue Jays records. The team has won each of his last 12 starts, tied with Jimmy Key and J.A. Happ for second-most. His eight straight wins have him tied with Roger Clemens for second-most too. Roy Halladay holds the top spot in both categories.
His steady performances this season have been crucial as three of his starts were one-run games, an emerging trend. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect about Manoah’s start this season is that he’s only hit one batter after plunking an MLB-high 16 batters over just 111.2 innings in 2021.
It’s easy to get caught up thinking about the things Manoah could accomplish over the course of the next decade or so. While that is exciting to ponder, he’s showing an ability and confidence that suggest he’s on his way to some special accolades this season.
It just feels like the Jays are bound to win every fifth day when Manoah takes the field. Given the recent dominance of Gausman and a steady patch of starts from Berrios, the continued excellence from Manoah will go a long way towards this team getting where they want to go.