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The Season That Was: Alek Manoah

A look at Manoah’s 2023 season.

Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Alek Manoah was our number one pick and eleven overall in the 2019 draft. He did well in Vancouver at the end of the 2019. Then came a pandemic, and baseball didn’t happen in 2020.

In 2021, he made 3 Triple starts and was called up to Toronto. He was 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts for the team and getting some Rookie of the Year votes.

2022 went even better. 16-7, with a 2.24 ERA in 31 starts. He made the All-Star team and finished third in Cy Young voting. We were looking forward to seeing if he could take another step forward in 2023. He was named the opening-day starter. All seemed good.

And then, well, “No plan of operations can be at all relied upon beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main force.”

Standard Pitching
25 3 9 5.87 19 19 0 0 87.1 93 61 57 15 59 1 79 9 3 3 72 6.02 1.34
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2023.

Baseball Reference had him at a -1.1 WAR. FanGraphs -0.4, making him worth a $-3.2 million to the Blue Jays (you think your Rogers bill is high). That’s quite the drop from a 6.0 bWAR and a 4.1 fWAR.

Alek’s FIP was 6.01 and xFIP 5.85.

His BABIP was .308, last year .244.

His line drive rate was 21.1% (up slightly from 20.6%). Ground ball 37.7% (much the same as last year’s 37.5%). Fly ball 41.1% (similar to his 41.9% last year). 13.8% of his fly balls left the park, much higher than 7.1 last year).

Manoah’s strikeout rate was 19.0% (down a bit from 22.9), and his walk rate was way way up 14.2% (6.5 last year).

His soft contact rate was down (13.4% from 16.9%) and hard contact was way up (36.9% from 23.7).

He was better vs. right-handed batters (.263/.372/.417) than left-handed batters (.274/.401/.495).

Batters hit him a little better on the road (.213/.289/.322) than at home (.191/.256/.306) but he had a better ERA on the road (2.07) than at home (2.42). A sample size issue I’m sure.

Batters hit him much better at home (.324/.460/.581, 8.15 ERA) than on the road (.227/.329/.369, 4.33). Our batters couldn’t hit at home, but, at least against Manoah, the visitors could hit in Rogers Centre. We could have lived with road Manoah.

Alek in the first half (2-7, 5.91, 283/.393/.461). In the second half (1-2, 5.79, .227/.373/.455).

Manoah by month:

  • April: 1-1, 4.88 ERA in 6 starts. Batters hit .254/.372/.410 in 31.1 innings.
  • May: 0-5, 6.15 ERA in 6 starts. Batters hit .286/.414/.514 in 26.1 innings.
  • June: 0-1, 162.00 ERA in 1 starts. Batters hit .875/.889/1.250 in .1 innings.
  • July: 1-1, 4.34 ERA, in 4 starts. Batters hit .211/.345/.352 in 18.2 innings.
  • August 1-1, 4.34 ERA in 2 starts. Batters hit .250/.348/.500 in 10.2 innings.

So he was better when he returned from banishment (not great, but better). I can see why he wouldn’t be happy to be sent out again.

The Jays were 8-11 in his starts. The team averaged 4.58 runs per game.

His best start by GameScore. April 22nd in New York, against the Yankees. He went 7 innings and allowed just 2 hits 1 walk with 5 strikeouts for a 77 GameScore.

Worst start? June 5th at home against the Astros. He got one out, allowing 7 hit, 6 earned, 1 walk with no strikeouts. A 12 GameScore.

Alex starts on:

  • 4 days rest 6 times with a 9.00 ERA.
  • 5 days rest 10 times with a 4.06 ERA.
  • And more than 5 days 3 times with a 7.30.

Opponent batting average by time through the order:

  • First: .293/.412/.514.
  • Second: .228/.346/.382
  • Third: .290/.395/.493
  • Fourth, just one at-bat, it was a single.

By Catcher:

  • Alejandro Kirk: 13 starts. 6.35 ERA. Batters hit .286/.413/.472.
  • Danny Jansen: 6 starts. 4.99 ERA. Batters hit .235/.336/.435.

I think that that is just sample size.

He averaged 4/6 innings per start.

Yeah, it was a mess.

I’m unsure if it had something to do with the pitch clock or conditioning or something else.

I think the team did him a disservice by calling him up so soon after sending him down. I get that they needed someone to fill out the rotation, but I think the team should have done what was best for him, not what was best for the club at that time.

Looking at his numbers, it’s pretty easy to see that he was having trouble throwing strikes (if his control was off or because he was betting hit so hard when he did throw a strike). He seemed to fall behind most hitters and would have to groove something.

His fastball was a tiny bit slower than last year, with a 92.8 mph average this year and 93.6 last. And his slider was down a bit, too, 80.8 from 81.5. I don’t think that explains the difference.

Alek had a tough time when the batter was ahead on the count, .271/.530/.505. I think we could figure that out by watching. But then, he wasn’t amazing when he was ahead in the count, .262/.291/.459.

The big question is, can he return to being a good pitcher again? And, of course, the answer is he can. Will he is another question? I’d like to think so. I’d imagine he’ll be on a mission to get as strong as possible over the winter.

And will he continue to be a Blue Jay? I can’t see trading him. In the buy low, sell high world, trading him now would be selling low. And releasing him would be dumb.

I can understand him being upset about being sent down the second time. It is possible he has a grievance if he can show that he had any sort of injury. If the reports that he was getting injections in his arm are true, that might be enough to win a grievance.

Spring training will be interesting.


In 2024 we will see

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    The 2022 Manoah.
    (33 votes)
  • 6%
    The 2023 Manoah.
    (16 votes)
  • 60%
    Something in between.
    (152 votes)
  • 19%
    Won’t be on the Jays roster,
    (50 votes)
251 votes total Vote Now

Before the season we asked:

  • Over/under 199 innings: We were 50/50 on the voting.
  • Over/under on ERA at 3.50. 82% of us were wrong.
  • Will Alek win a Cy Young in his career? 73% said yes. I’d imagine if I asked that now, we’d get a different response.


For his 2023 season, I would grade Alek Manoah an

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    (12 votes)
  • 10%
    (26 votes)
  • 13%
    (36 votes)
  • 63%
    (165 votes)
259 votes total Vote Now