A long road back for Alek?

Alek Manoah has been sent down to the Minor League.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider confirmed yesterday that Manoah’s performance problems throughout the start of this season had gone too far and it forced them to push the reset button.

Manoah will be at the Florida Complex League for the foreseeable future, but why?

What’s happened?

2NJYHYN Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alex Manoah throws to a New York Yankees batter in the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP)

The star pitcher looked like a shadow of himself last season.

Flashback to last season and he was one of the Blue Jays up and coming stars, a backbone of the team, reliable and dependable. He also came third place in the votes to select last year’s American League Cy Young Award.

The right hander just isn’t himself this season and ‘early struggles’ in the past two months had gotten serious. He lacks his attacking spirit against hitters or the aggression from the mound.

The Astros

Monday night’s game in the latest Blue Jays vs Houston Astros series is a case in point.

On the mound, Manoah only managed to record one out, allowing the Astros to get seven hits, one of them being a grand slam.

The Blue Jays would be blindsided by a 11 – 4 loss. That’s just after coming off a previous sweep against the New York Mets.

His ERA would balloon to 6.36. which is embarrassing for the pitcher but his manager reaffirmed his support his player saying,

‘We’ve got to continue to do what’s best for him to help him get better. ‘That’s what we’re going to do, starting tonight and moving forward. That’s been our focus the whole time, so we’ll continue to do that.’

Probably for the best

2NC61RN February 14, 2023, DUNEDIN, FL, UNITED STATES: Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider watches a drill from second base during spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Tuesday, February 14, 2023. (Credit Image: © Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via ZUMA Press) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!

Schneider told the media following the decision to send Manoah to the minor league was ‘not a knee-jerk reaction’.

‘Like I’ve been saying all along, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help him get better, and we feel like that’s the proper first, initial step,’ he would add.

The Florida Complex League is not exactly just down the road, it’s where the team did their Spring Training. On the other hand, given the level of expertise and technology that’s housed there, this is probably the best way for him to regain his talent and vigour.

Still part of the team

2NMMG9Y TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 13: Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher Alek Manoah (6) celebrates after recording his 10th strikeout during the MLB baseball regular season game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays on September 13, 2021, at Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON, Canada. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

While Manoah will be taking his time to rebuild, Schneider reaffirmed that he was still very much part of the team. He was not simply being hurried off and forgotten.

The Blue Jays were sending David Howell, the team’s assistant pitching coach down to help him as well as remote support from the likes of Pete Walker and Jeff Ware.

‘Alek is a guy who, for as highly as we’ve spoken about him for a long time, we’re confident that when he is himself, he’s still going to be a huge part of what we’re trying to do.

‘In that environment is the right place to start,’ Schneider explained.

A big reset?

2PFT1A4 Dunedin, The United States. 18th Mar, 2023. Toronto Blue Jays?Ao Bowden Francis delivers a pitch during a spring training game against the New York Yankees at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., Saturday, March 18, 2023. Credit: The Canadian Press/Alamy Live News

With Manoah out for the foreseeable future and the 27-year-old righty Francis Bowden recalled to potentially cover him, it does chart some interesting new territory for Blue Jays pitching.

For now, the Blue Jays have relied on five pitchers delivering exactly what is needed and coping with the pressure, but it raises questions about their pitching depth being able to handle situations like this.

While the days of sending the Roy Halliday back to Single-A to rebuild his delivery was so 20+ years ago, can teams now afford to send top-flight players back to school to address their performance?

‘Whenever he’s ready is when he’s ready,’ Schneider told the media.

Posted on: 07 Jun 2023