After a trip down to the Blue Jays’ spring training complex failed to rebuild Alek Manoah’s confidence (or mechanics), Toronto is sending its erstwhile ace down to the Minors again — potentially on a more permanent basis this time. The Jays announced on Friday afternoon that they’ve optioned Manoah down to Triple-A:
The Blue Jays have optioned Alek Manoah to Triple-A, the team announced. pic.twitter.com/tKGKso9j5P— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 11, 2023
The move can’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s watched Manoah pitch of late. The righty — who, again, finished third in AL Cy Young voting in 2022 — spent over a month down at Toronto’s Florida complex, rebuilding his mechanics from the ground up while pitching in Rookie-level games as the team attempted to fix whatever had gone wrong during a disastrous start to 2023. Manoah looked great in his first start back in the Majors, striking out eight over six innings of one-run ball against the Tigers.
From there, though, the wheels have come off again. Manoah has posted a 5.79 ERA over his last five starts, with 15 earned runs and a whopping 17 walks allowed across 23.1 innings of work. He struggled with his command again in his most recent outing on Thursday, walking three and giving up four runs in four innings in a loss to the Cleveland Guardians — a team that’s been the worst offense in baseball in the month of August. Hyun-Jin Ryu’s return from Tommy John rehab gave the Jays another option for their fifth starter, and they’ve apparently decided that they can no longer afford to let Manoah try and work out the kinks in the middle of a postseason push.
Toronto enters play on Friday at 65-52, 1.5 games ahead of the red-hot Seattle Mariners for the third and final AL Wild Card spot. Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt and Jose Berrios give the Jays a very solid top three to their rotation — and Yusei Kikuchi remains a pleasant surprise — but it’s hard to justify giving Manoah the ball every fifth day when each win is so critical. The righty looked like a budding star last season, pitching to a 2.24 ERA and 0.992 WHIP across 196.2 innings.