Alek Manoah is a broken man, and the Blue Jays are running out of answers – and time – to figure out how to fix their larger-than-life starter.
That showed on the scoreboard Monday night when Manoah’s decline in form hit rock bottom when he managed just one out after allowing six runs in the first inning in a disheartening and humiliating 4-11 loss to the Houston Astros.
The impatient (and, let’s face it, heartless) Rogers Center fans gushed, booing Manoah as he worked and then cheering when manager John Schneider gave him the hook.
Most importantly, it’s clear to anyone who’s watched him struggle through 13 starts – including the worst performance of his young career on Monday – that Manoah is currently bearing the brunt of the suffering.
So now it’s in the front office. Can general manager Ross Atkins afford to keep sending a devastated Manoah out until he gets things sorted out?
Is that razor-thin organizational depth early in pitching about to surface and further jeopardize a team with an underperforming record?
We’ll likely find out soon, as it’s clear to those who watch Manoah daily that the once brazen starter has lost his way.
“I’m with him a lot and there were definitely moments where you could tell he was confused and not used to fighting,” Jays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said ahead of Monday’s game. “There’s something going on there and we’re all pushing for him to get out of there.
“But I don’t think he pitches with much confidence.”
That’s clear to anyone who sees Manoah’s body language when things get out of hand, which has happened far too often this season.
Asked pregame if a trip to the Triple-A Buffalo for regrouping was an option, Jays manager John Schneider said of Manoah, whose record is down to 1-7, “It hasn’t been brought up,” adding then add “as” from now on.”
While it’s possible the manager was messing around, it’s not as if the options were plentiful. And really, after Monday’s frankly shocking ineptitude, those last three words might be telling. And would it surprise anyone if there was a trip to the minors?
“We’re talking about a really good one here Pitcher, who’s going through a tough time right now,” Schneider said. “What’s cool about this team and this organization is that we’re willing to do whatever we think is necessary to help you and the players understand that.”
The latest gruesome performance followed a rather miserable May in which Manoah was 0-5 in six starts in which he ran more batters (21) than he batted (20).
“I think you take the person out and you always try to do what’s best for the person and the competitor,” Schneider said when asked if the team considered letting Manoah forego a start. “We haven’t made it yet.
“He really believes that he wants to get out there and compete and help his team win. We’re just trying everything we can to help him get there.”
As tough as the season was for Manoah, the last one went awry in a hurry. After a leadoff single against Mauricio Dubon – no less on the first pitch of the game – Jeremy Pena laid down a slow rolling bunt over third baseline. To comic relief, Manoah got on his knees and mockingly tried to blow the ball up, but to no avail.
The rest of the inning wasn’t amusing — which included a Grand Slam home run from Astros left fielder Corey Julks.
By the amazingly quick finish, Manoah had thrown an unsightly 38 pitches, giving up just one batsman and practically knocking his team out of the game.
The downfall was tough for Manoah, of course, but it’s nagging to pay attention to the teammates who look after him and have seen him grow from a starting player on Matchday 1 to a potential temporary drop out of the rotation.
“This game will humble you and make you feel really down at times, but you never want to forget what brought you here,” Kiermaier said. “For Manoah, we just want him to get out of his own head and give him some momentum.
“He carried it like a man. He didn’t hang what he did, or sulk, or bring anyone down. He got it on the chin and is trying to get better.”
The big and urgent question is where this dynamic begins and where it arises. But can the Jays really afford to let this happen on a major league hilltop?
AROUND THE BASE
Manoah’s poor performance was a difficult start to a four-game series against the Astros that has some playoff elements. As the Jays fell to 33-28, they lost 3.5 games behind the reigning champion, who holds the second AL wildcard spot… More on the gap in starting depth? Mitch White – who was supposed to be fighting for fifth in spring training but was struggling with injuries, isn’t exactly scoring at Triple A Buffalo… Manoah’s early exit prompted a parade of substitutes, six in total with the first-team, Jay Jackson , who consumed the most innings at 2.2… It was a bad time, but Daulton Varsho hit his tenth home run in the eighth. Earlier, Alejandro Kirk scored his second goal of the season.
https://torontosun.com/sports/baseball/toronto-blue-jays/is-alek-manoah-pitching-his-way-out-of-the-big-leagues-blue-jays-have-a-call-to-make-after-latest-dud Can Blue Jays starter Manoah make his way out of the big leagues?