Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah had an exceptional 2021 rookie campaign. Unfortunately, Manoah didn’t rank in the Rookie of the Year award tally, as he finished 8th place among voters, mostly attributed to his later start at the big league level. However, Manoah was rewarded with the respect and admiration of the Toronto fan base. In Toronto Blue Jays history, there have not been many that have busted onto the scene as Alek Manoah did.
Dave Stieb came up in 1979 after pitching around 30 innings of minor league baseball. He was a bright spot on an absolutely dismal club. Stieb’s eight wins were tied for second on the pitching staff, one behind Tommy Underwood. Juan Guzman arrived at the big league level in 1991. Guzman put up a 2.99 ERA in his rookie campaign and was the best pitcher on the roster as Stieb coincidently was facing injuries that season.
Of course, I have to mention former Blue Jays Cy Young Award Winner Pat Hentgen, who went 19 and 9 in 1993 in his second season (and his first full one for the Blue Jays as well).
Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah is having an outstanding sophomore season. Let’s compare his numbers to both former Jays and current MLB starters.
Like Stieb, Manoah did not spend a ton of time in the minor leagues. After being drafted 11th overall in 2019, he finished out the year pitching for the Vancouver Canadians in the Northwest League (at the time). He spent 2020 at the Minor League ALT site in Rochester due to COVID-19. He had a few starts in Buffalo to begin the 2021 campaign but then he was a mainstay on the roster for the remainder of the season, vaulting over highly regarded Nate Pearson and the often-injured Julian Merryweather on the depth chart.
The expectations for Manoah this season were high and he has sure delivered and then some. Currently, Manoah has pitched to a 14-7 record with a 2.43 ERA. He has thrown over 177 IP this season when some people thought that he would be on an innings limit. Well, with absolutely no starting pitching depth in Buffalo, that has gone out the window. If my math is right and it possibly may not be, Manoah should have potentially four starts left. If he averages at least six innings in those starts, that would put him over the 200 IP mark.
Let’s have a look at fellow 2021 rookie and Tampa Bay Rays starter Shane McClanahan. McClanahan finished just in front of Manoah for 2021 Rookie of the Year voting. McClanahan has been fighting the injury bug recently, but he has pitched well all season, owning a 12 -5 record with a 2.13 ERA. McClanahan has pitched 152 Innings for the season, that’s about 25 less than Manoah. Manoah has given up a few more hits than McClanahan which has led to a few more runs against him. If Justin Verlander actually aged, you could make an argument for either of these two players to gain the majority of the American League Cy Young Votes this season.
Speaking of the ageless wonder. Verlander and Manoah have become close off the field. Verlander won the American League Rookie of the Year in 2006 playing for the Tigers. In his sophomore season, Verlander won 18 games and lost 6. He finished with over 201 innings pitched. He was an All-Star and finished fifth in American league Cy-Young voting. Although Manoah doesn’t have the electric velocity Verlander does, I would not be shocked to see him finish the 2022 season with this kind of stat line.
We can make all of the comparisons we want. Alek Manoah’s future is very bright. He most certainly has delivered on his second season in the big leagues.