Blue Jays: What's the latest with Alek Manoah & when could he return?

Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

It's been three weeks now that the Blue Jays have been without Alek Manoah. Last year's All-Star and Cy Young finalist was sent down to the Florida Complex League—one of the lowest levels in all of minor league baseball—to get his bearings after struggling to a 1-7 record, a 6.36 ERA and an equally unsightly 1.90 WHIP through the season's first couple of months.

Manoah's Baseball Savant page was littered with blue—as in 'cold as ice'—at the time of his demotion. He was in the 3rd percentile (i.e. 97% of major league pitchers were better) in xERA (expected ERA), and the 9th percentile in xSLG (expected slugging pct.).

So how is that reset coming along? According to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, the team "liked what they saw" from Manoah in a simulated game last week and a side session this past weekend, and he is now set to pitch in a Florida Complex League or Florida State League (A-ball) game this week.

Davidi told The Fan 590 Morning Show that Manoah has been working on "locking down a couple of things in his delivery" due to some bad mechanics that had crept in. By getting into the pitching lab at the Florida complex, "they're able to break down his delivery more thoroughly" than they could do in Toronto.

This next outing will be "a really important test and will determine the next steps for him."

One thing that the Jays won't be doing with their 2022 ace is rushing him back to the majors. "You don't want him thinking about his mechanics when he's back on a big league mound," said Davidi. "You want it to be embedded as muscle memory for him so that he can just go out there and focus on competing."

For now, there's still no timeframe for Manoah's return, but a couple of Triple-A starts could be in the offing before he appears on a mound again for Toronto. Barring unforeseen circumstances, he almost certainly will not be back before the All-Star Break. They'll only need a fifth starter, at max, two more times before the Break, so they'll likely continue to go with Trevor Richards as the opener in those situations and hope that Alek is ready to go after that.

Update after Alek Manoah's first FCL outing

Things are not going well for Manoah, who made his first official FCL start today. The line score says it all, as the one-time star in the making allowed 11 earned runs in under three of innings of work while playing against some of the least-developed players in the game.

Things are getting tough out here for Manoah, who seemed to be one or two quick fixes away from a rebirth in the big leagues. After today's horrible outing, things are going to have to be placed on pause for a while as he continues to search for what made him a dominant force at one point.