HomeTeamsBlue JaysWhere Are The Toronto Blue Jays At With Alek Manoah?

Where Are The Toronto Blue Jays At With Alek Manoah?

The Toronto Blue Jays are a team that hasn’t scored more than five runs in 16 games now, after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

That loss dropped the Jays record to 13-12, fourth in the American League, four games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first.

All the positive spin doctoring in the world in Toronto media over Addison Barger, called up from AAA Buffalo (where he had three HRs, and a .314 batting average, .435 on-base percentage, .586 slugging percentage), making his MLB debut last night, isn’t going to change the fact that the top of this lineup – George Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  down through Alejandro Kirk – needs to wake up from their early season hitting doldrums if this team thinks it has a smidgeon of a chance of catching teams like the Orioles and New York Yankees.

Then there’s the fifth spot in the starting rotation. The plan was for Alek Manoah, currently rehabbing and pitching in Buffalo, to work his way back from spring training shoulder discomfort and grab that fifth spot.

There’s a ton of hope in the organization that the 6-foot-6, 285-pound right hander can recapture the 2022 form that had him in the AL Cy Young conversation. He was an all-star that year, as well, before totally falling off the rails last season (3-9, 5.87 ERA, in 19 starts), with two demotions to the minor leagues to sort out his physical and mental issues on the mound.

Yesterday he took the mound for his second rehab start with the Bisons, after allowing just two runs on six hits, striking out six, and not walking a batter in 5.2 innings against the Columbus Clippers last week. This was supposed to next step up the ladder. But it wasn’t meant to be – Manoah struggled with his control last night, needing 88 pitches to get through three innings, giving up seven hits, two HRs, and four walks. He struck out five and is carrying a 9.00 ERA in Buffalo now.

The Jays will tell you it’s part of the process, and Cuban free agent signee Yariel Rodriguez (last night’s line for Rodriguez, who admitted later he didn’t have his best stuff, against the Royals – 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 K, 2 BB), with Bowden Francis backing him up is more than sufficient to fill that spot.

But you know the hopes are that Manoah steps back in and takes that spot, and they can slot Rodriguez and Francis back to long relief, in a bullpen that on too many nights this season has been too thin.

The Jays get right back at it today at 2:10 p.m. EST in the fourth game of the series against the Royals, looking to leave Kansas City with a split.

The good news is they have Jose Berrios on the mound – 4-0, 0.85 ERA, with 27 SOs in 31.2 innings pitched.

Berrios is driving the bus for the Jays early this season, and it’s because of him and starters like Yusei Kikuchi and Chris Bassitt that the Jays are four games off the pace.

Keep an eye on Manoah’s development, though, because if those bats, especially Guerrero Jr.’s (.219 batting average, .674 OPS, three HRs, nine RBIs), continue to slumber, that starting staff, combined with an elite outfield defence, will be the reason why the Jays have a chance of staying in the race. 


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