Love him, hate him, somewhere in between; Blue Jays fans shouldn't have booed Alek Manoah
By Eric Treuden
Let's face it, Monday night's game against the New York Yankees went horribly for Alek Manoah. The right-hander entered the day in desperate need of a solid start, as his last one hadn't come since April 22nd against the very same Yankees. That day, he went seven shutout innings with five strikeouts, a walk and only two hits allowed.
Unfortunately for all non-Yankees involved, that version of Manoah was nowhere to be found in the abysmal performance he put on during Monday's 7-4 loss.
If anything, Manoah found a way to get even worse. In just four innings of work (the fourth time this year he's gone under five innings), the burly 25-year-old allowed five earned runs on six hits, two of them being home runs. Even worse is the fact that he walked a total of seven batters along the way.
Obviously, this is unacceptable. But another thing that's unaccpetable was the showering of boos he received while he was exiting the field. Even if Manoah has not been able to replicate his performances from last year, this is a pitcher who, under two months ago, we thought was going to lead us to the promised land. He could do no wrong. He was sure to win the AL Cy Young Award.
Instead, he gets off to a rough start and is disrespected like he was on Monday.
For what it's worth, Manoah seems to be taking his recent string of poor outings in stride. He told MLB.com's Keegan Matheson after the game, "right now, the game is just testing me. You find out who's who when things aren't going well."
While "aren't going well" is a bit of an understatement, there seems to be some underlying issues with Manoah that perhaps we are not privy to. He has showed what seems to be a complete loss of control and command of his pitches and he does not have anywhere close to the same level of confidence he had last season when he finished third in the Cy Young voting.
For fans calling for a demotion for the big righty, hold your horses. All one has to do is take a look at how long of a leash both José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi had last year before any sort of change was made (Kikuchi moved to the bullpen, Berríos stuck around in the rotation). Manoah is still young and, honestly, still developing. There truly is very little reason to be sounding the alarms and waving the white flags just yet; keep in mind he has yet to make even 10 starts during the 2023 campaign.
Love, hate, somewhere in between, regardless of what you're feeling towards Manoah and his efforts on the mound, Blue Jays fans need to be better here. There's no reason to kick a player when he's down a boo them for their play on the field, especially when it's someone like Manoah, who is one of the young building blocks of this team.