Alek Manoah takes a massive step forward in latest outing against the Twins

Win or no win, this was the start Alek Manoah and the Blue Jays have needed.
Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays
Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

In a time when he needed it most, Alek Manoah absolutely shoved this Mother's Day against a strong Minnesota Twins lineup. Coming off a shaky start against the Nationals last Sunday, "Big Puma" desperately needed a quality start if he was going to justify staying in the majors- and a quality start he delivered.

If Manoah needed to fix anything for his next start, it certainly had to be his command. His last start was looking promising- until the fourth inning came along. Manoah didn't have a lock on his command, leading him to allow three home runs (two of which occurred in the fourth), all of which came on hanging sliders. On top of this, he surrendered four walks and of course, one hit by pitch. His start ended only after four innings and six earned runs.

The odds weren't in Manoah's favor for his next start. As if the cold streak he's been on wasn't enough, Manoah was slated to face the Minnesota Twins, one of the hottest offensive teams in the league. The Twins rank fourth in the A.L. in team wRC+ at 109, with names such as Canadian Eduoard Julien, Ryan Jeffers and Trevor Larnach being main contributors. After they, once again, shelled Kevin Gausman last Saturday, Manoah needed his A-game.

Luckily for all involved, especially Manoah himself, he brought exactly that. He looked much sharper, completing seven innings with six strikeouts and no earned runs (though three were un-earned). His command also looked strong, as he only surrendered one walk and didn't hit any batters. He threw a lot more strikes and was extremely efficient, completing his seven innings in only 78 pitches. In these 87 pitches, Manoah threw 55 strikes, for a strike rate of 71%. This is up nearly 14% from his last start, when he threw only 52 strikes in 92 pitches.

This start is certainly encouraging as Manoah demonstrated clear improvement in the area where he struggled most. He not only limited his amount of hanging sliders, but threw effective pitches that helped him get out of a few jams. Can we say Manoah is officially back? Not quite. But if he is able to build on this progress against his next start vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, the Jays might find themselves winning a bit more than they have thus far.