Alek Manoah's return to form
One of the unexpected outcomes during the Jays’ 2023 season was the surprising regression of Alek Manoah. After being named an AL Cy Young finalist during his sophomore year following a brilliant rookie debut in 2021, much more was expected out of the young phenom this past season in helping to carry the Jays to the postseason and beyond.
However, who knew that his uncharacteristic Opening Day start in which he gave up 9 hits and 5 earned runs in just 3.1 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals foreshadowed what was to come. Unable to maintain consistent control and command of his pitches for practically the entire season, Manoah ended up posting a disappointing 3-9 record with a 5.87 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, giving up a whopping 93 hits and 59 walks, leading to 57 earned runs in just 87.1 innings. It even got to a point in which he was sent down to the minors to rediscover his confidence and to make the right adjustments to his pitching mechanics with hopes to right the ship, but to no avail.
Nevertheless, GM Ross Atkins has given him the vote of confidence heading into the 2024 season in that he will be in the mix for a starting rotation spot. For the Jays’ sake, they will need to get the dominant, front-end of the rotation version of Manoah back so that they don’t need to attempt to overspend or get into a bidding war for big and overhyped pitching free agents such as the recently signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto or current free agent Blake Snell. That way, not only would they have a bonafide starter back in their rotation, but they can now allocate their resources to address more important needs of the team, such as the aforementioned positions above.