When Alek Manoah began the 2023 season with the Toronto Blue Jays, many people had high hopes that their ace starter would help lead the team to many victories and success this year. Unfortunately, it had turned into a nightmarish start to the season instead, as he struggled the most in the Jays’ five-man rotation, ranking last among them in multiple pitching categories.
But despite the underwhelming start by Manoah, many people were breeding patience for the young stud pitcher, as many believed he had the ability to work things out eventually and could turn it around any time soon. So with that, let’s take a look at Manoah’s numbers to see if there has been any improvement over the last month.
Team W/L Record
As a matter of fact, it appears that the majority of his stats have actually gotten worse in the month of May. Not only is the team not winning any of the games he started anymore, but his ERA, FIP, WHIP, BB/9 ratio and opponents batting average have all gone up and approaching mediocrity.
Not only that, but opposing team basestealers are also beginning to take advantage of Manoah’s slow pitch delivery, as they have stolen 12 bases while only being caught once so far this season.
Looking at more advanced metrics with Statcast, Manoah is currently ranked in the 26th percentile for Hard Hit %, 43rd percentile in Barrel %, 6th percentile in BB %, 18th percentile in Whiff %, 28th percentile in Chase Rate, and 47th percentile in Average Exit Velocity. So not only is he unable to induce many swing-and-miss, he is putting a lot of runners on base and has been hit hard as well. Basically, he has been a shell of his former self from his previous two seasons, and he hasn’t done anything recently to bring any signs of encouragement that he was getting out of his slump soon. No doubt Jays fans and management are beginning to worry, as frustration begins to mount at the same time as well.
So what should the Jays do with Manoah? Is it time to worry and panic about his situation?
If one could recall, Romero was a former first round pick by the Jays in the 2005 MLB Draft who went on to become the Jays’ ace starter of the staff by 2010. In 2011, in just his third year with the team, he posted career best numbers in wins (15), ERA (2.92), innings pitched (225), strikeouts (178), ERA+ (146), and WHIP (1.138), and was even worthy of being a potential Cy Young candidate that year too.
However, when his 2012 season started, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for Romero, as he would struggle with his control and command all year, leading to a high number of walks, in addition to almost doubling his ERA from his previous year, a WHIP ballooning to 1.674 and an ERA+ falling to just 73. The Jays chose to let Romero slowly work things out at the time and hoped that he would eventually regain his top form from 2011. Unfortunately, he was never able to turn it around and was out of the major leagues after 2013 and out of baseball completely after 2017.
In the case for Halladay, everyone would probably remember his debut year back in 1998 when he nearly pitched a no-hitter in just his second start of his career. He would eventually follow it up with a strong season in 1999, posting decent numbers in ERA (3.92), ERA+ (125), and post a winning record of 8-7. Then came his disastrous season in 2000, when everything appeared to have fallen apart for Halladay. That year, he was just in his third year with the Jays, and ended up having the worst season in his career, struggling to career lows in ERA (10.64), ERA+ (48), and WHIP (2.202), with opposing batters hitting almost everything in sight and getting on base at ease.
So to put it into perspective, at least Manoah’s stats aren’t as horrendous as Halladay’s were that year. But unlike Romero, the Jays didn’t just let Halladay work things out as long as he wanted. Instead, they sent down to the minor leagues for the 2001 season to rebuild his delivery and pitches. In doing so, he worked his way through three minor league levels and eventually made it back to the big leagues near the end of the 2001 season. From there, Halladay never looked back and eventually became the Hall of Famer everyone envisioned him to be.
In both instances, Romero and Halladay were still in the early parts of their career, and may not have had the experience and composure to handle failure when things weren’t going well at the time. In Romero’s case, they never looked at readjusting his pitching mechanics and waited for him to rediscover his form, whereas for Halladay, they did the harsh move to send him back to the minors, but worked with him to rebuild his form. The outcomes for the two pitchers were drastically different as a result.
Therefore, as much as the Jays want to give Manoah all the time he needs to regroup and self-adjust his mechanics and slowly work his way back to top form, they should really consider the harsh treatment and think about pulling a “Roy Halladay move” to help Manoah rebuild his pitching and delivery. In particular, if the implementation of the pitch clock is indeed one of the main culprits that has been affecting his performance all season, being able to work on readjusting his timing and delivery of his pitches to work effectively with the pitch clock in a less, stressful environment in the minors will be instrumental in getting him back on track.
Everyone knows Manoah has all the skills and talent in the world, after seeing what he had done the past two seasons, but being able to reset his mechanics and build back up his confidence to pitch effectively would be the ultimate key to his success not only this year, but his future career as well. The last thing the Jays would want is another Ricky Romero outcome and thus, have all that talent and potential wasted, along with jeopardizing the once promising career.