Alek Manoah's three starts post-demotion have shown two very different trends

San Diego Padres v Toronto Blue Jays
San Diego Padres v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Since being demoted to the minor leagues, Alek Manoah has come back up to be nothing but inconsistent. His first three starts back with the Blue Jays have shown two completely different results. 

 Manoah came back in his first start with some very positive results against the Detroit Tigers. Even with going up against a weaker lineup, he showed a defiant change in his fastball velocity and command as well as the break on his slider. In the end Manoah only gave up one earned run on five hits during his six innings of work. He also struck out eight batters, showing that he may be trending closer to his old self.

 Manoah’s next start against a more star-studded lineup in the San Diego Padres told a completely different story. In three innings pitched he gave up four runs on four hits and five walks. In his start against the Tigers, walks were something he was able to avoid, giving up none. Before being sent down the number of walks he was giving up was becoming a major issue as it looked like he was afraid to throw anything in the zone. The start against the Padres gave Jays fans a scare into the possibility that the start against a weak Tigers lineup was a one off and maybe this is the Manoah that fans and the organization could be seeing for the rest of the season.

His third start against the Seattle Mariners showed a middle ground between the first two starts. Manoah gave up three runs on three hits in five and a third innings pitched. He also struck out six batters, but gave up four walks. His command was shaky in this start, but he ultimately got out of the game without too much damage being done. In his first two starts since his return from the minors Manoah gave up an average exit velocity of 87.8mph, yet in his start against the Mariners he gave up an average exit velocity of 97.3mph. Everything the Mariners hit was hard which is definitely concerning. If he wasn’t striking batters out, they were either drawing a walk or hitting the ball hard whether they were hits or outs.

Three starts back from demotion should be enough of a telling point to see where Manoah is. That telling point is that he is still extremely inconsistent specifically with his command. At times in the start against Seattle his slider began to look more alive which led to the high number of strikeouts, but the four walks shows that his command is still shaky and will lead into troublesome innings at times. His earned run average since returning is 6.18 which is subpar and shows that he is not close to his 2022 form yet. 

Will he return back to his old self? Only time will tell and no one can decide that other than him. For now, he is good enough to keep getting the ball once every five days and with the resurgence of Yusei Kikuchi and José Berrios, the Jays starting rotation is definitely a strong point. Anything better than what he was before being demoted is better than nothing, but a 2022 Manoah would help the Jays make a big run down the stretch.