Alek Manoah is expected to return to Toronto Blue Jays this Friday.
Toronto Blue Jays fans will certainly be excited to see Manoah back in the roster but there will be that niggling feeling in the back of their minds that says ‘is it too soon’?
The right hander is expected to make his comeback to the Blue Jays just in time for their second Regular season series faceoff against Detroit Tigers.
But, after roughly a month in Minor League rehab and some inconsistent performances, is it the right time?
Work in Progress
It was on Tuesday that Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider announced that the pitcher would be returning to the roster this week.
The announcement comes roughly a month (June 6th) after Manoah was demoted to the Minor League – Florida Complex League – to get his pitch back.
While the move was embarrassing for an All-Star player who had shown incredible clout in the 2022/23 season. His first 13 starts of the new season had been less than stellar.
Not an ERA to remember
The final game which saw Manoah temporarily demoted was against the Houston Astros. The defending champions were formidable opponents, but Manoah’s poor performance was clear to see.
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.
Manoah’s ERA would also balloon to 6.36, a vast distance from the previous season’s 2.24 or his 2021 Jays’ debut season ERA of 3.22.
Find out more about what happened a month ago right here: A long road back for Alek?
Great in the Sims
Less than two weeks into Manoah’s rehab, Schneider was already complimenting the struggling hurler’s performance in the sim-games.
‘Everything that we were talking about in terms of delivery and stuff was good, so making some strides in the right direction,’ Schneider said.
That positivity would soon see Manoah head into proper practice games with the Minors.
Fast forward to late last month and the right hander took a bit of a knock to his confidence after sim games.
While pitching for the FCL Blue Jays team against New York’s minor league Yankees, he gave up two walks, two homeruns and 10 hits.
Manoah’s performance wasn’t perfect against the rookie team but Schneider hasn’t lost confidence in his hurler.
Grain of Salt
‘Obviously saw the line score but heard the things we were talking about in terms of strike throwing, delivery, tempo, velo was all positive.
‘The rest of the stuff you can kind of take it with a grain of salt.
‘I don’t think one day, one outing, one report will really change.I think there’s enough track record and confidence and belief in him,’ Schneider would say.
Then on Sunday, Manoah managed to strike out 10 of the Portland Sea Dog batters over the course of 5 innings.
His fastball registered 93mph and he threw 47 of the 82 pitches.
Manoah acknowledged this vast improvement and the support he’s getting from his team. During his interview with Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, he said:
‘It’s been a lot of ups and downs. Being able to figure everything out and understand that there are a lot of people that are rooting for me, having a great support system around me and also understanding there are a lot of people that like to kick me when I’m down.
‘And that’s good because that means a lot of people want to see me down and that means they don’t want to see me come back up.
And I’m ready to come back up. I’m ready to be a tiger. I’m ready to be a horse on that mound and I’m ready to help our team win, you know?
Why the Rush?
While Manoah and his manager are positive about his return on Friday, not everyone thinks so.
One of those critical voices is MLB pundit and former New York Mets GM, Steve Phillips. During his punditry on the Jay on SC show for TSN, he questioned why now.
‘I just don’t understand the timing of it,’ he said.
Against Detroit Tigers
Toronto Blue Jays head to Comerica Park to face the Detroit Tigers this Friday night. It’ll be their first game of their Second Series this season.
The Blue Jays won two of the three games in the first series, of which Manoah was a starter in GAME 1.
Manoah currently has an ERA of 5.06 with 15 strikeouts in his three appearances against the Tigers.
Overall, the Blue Jays have a record of 243 wins compared to 206 losses in their 449 games against the Tigers.