Toronto Blue Jays need to be cautious with Alek Manoah

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah (75). (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah (75). (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

Alex Manoah continues to show the Toronto Blue Jays that he isn’t far off from pitching in the majors but the team has to think about the big picture.

It is tough to overlook his latest outing for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons where he struck out 10 batters while allowing four hits in six innings. He now owns a 0.50 ERA with three walks, 27 strikeouts and 0.56 WHIP through 18 innings in Triple-A.

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Those are certainly elite numbers but it’s always important to remember that minor league performances don’t easily translate against MLB hitters. Right now, the team certainly feels comfortable with what they are getting from Hyun Jin Ryu, Steven Matz and Robbie Ray.

Unfortunately, the other two rotation spots provide some concern as Ross Stripling’s rough outing against the Boston Red Sox on the same day as Manoah’s big game puts some pressure on the front office. At the same time, the team can’t look for quick fixes as the team would need Manoah to be a long-term solution.

This is what general manager Ross Atkins had to say about Manoah and some of the areas they want him to work on.

"“There’s always something,” Atkins said. “Even the best of the best. And for sure, he could be better with command. He could probably be better with change-up usage. Using his breaking ball in different counts and behind in counts. His fastball is such an effective weapon that he has to challenge himself against certain hitters to use his entire arsenal.“Controlling the running game he does very well. Fielding his position he does very well,” Atkins added. “So yes, there are things that he can work on in triple-A.”"

The last thing the Blue Jays want is a similar situation to Nate Pearson who couldn’t get through his first MLB start and is now likely destined to pitch in Triple-A for an extended period. The team probably also hopes that Thomas Hatch can get through his rehab starts with Buffalo and return as the fourth or fifth starter.

This would then leave a spot for Pearson or Manoah to compete for the final spot in the rotation and depending on how Ray and Matz continue to pitch, the team can look at adding another starter at the trade deadline.

As Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports, service time won’t be a factor in bringing up Manoah since he is under team control until 2027. So even if his next start isn’t in the majors, all the 23-year-old can do is continue to show that the minor leagues isn’t challenging enough for him and at that point, the decision to call him up would be a no-brainer.