Alek Manoah sheds light on the difficulties he's been facing in 2023

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know how poorly Alek Manoah's 2023 season is unfolding for the Toronto Blue Jays. After getting the ball on Opening Day and promptly imploding against the Cardinals, things haven't improved for the 25-year-old. In fact, they've gotten much, much worse.

Despite a couple of flashes of the old Manoah that Blue Jays fans were hoping and expecting to see, the season has been an unmitigated disaster for the third-year pitcher. He now sports a 1-6 record with a 5.46 ERA after struggling through a grueling month of May.

Every baseball analyst under the sun has weighed in on the struggles, trying to uncover the mechanical issues affecting Manoah's ability to command his pitches. Despite their good intentions, it's clear that the big righty is dealing with something else that can't be captured with Hawk-Eye and measured by Statcast.

Following his last start against the Brewers, a clearly subdued and defeated Manoah opened up about his mental state during his post-game comments to the media.

This came after cameras caught a heart-wrenching scene in the dugout with a visibly upset Manoah talking with and being consoled by manager John Schneider after his day was over after four innings. We've seen the dugout debates in the past, with Manoah pleading his case, like a bulldog after a bone, to stay in games.

This time looked different. Manoah, if he was trying to convince his manager to let him go back out for the fifth inning, was doing a half-hearted job. He did more listening than usual, with his demeanor suggesting that he was quickly realizing that his unraveling season had finally hit rock bottom.

In typical Manoah fashion, and to his credit, he didn't shy away from the scrutiny and questions after the game. He faced the cameras head-on and spoke his truth. Only now, the confidence and bravado we've been so used to seeing from him weren't there. Instead, his comments and body language reminded everyone that these high-performance athletes aren't robots.

His struggles remind us that our favorite athletes are people too. Despite being wired much differently than the average armchair manager, they still have to deal with human emotions and the psychological stresses of their jobs, and in the most public of forums.

With more and more athletes speaking out about mental health, someone like Manoah with the courage to stand up, face the music and tell the world what they're going through behind the scenes is important for people to see. Schneider appreciates what his starter is going through and how he has dealt with it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't get any easier for Manoah.

His upcoming start to kick off a four-game set against the always-dangerous Houston Astros isn't exactly the matchup you want to see on the schedule for a struggling pitcher. Although, at this point, the opponent doesn't really matter. His biggest adversary right now is himself.

If there's one thing we've learned about Alek Manoah, he won't shy away from the challenge.