Toronto Blue Jays: Pressure on Alek Manoah to provide depth

Toronto Blue Jays starting Alek Manoah (75) throws a pitch against the New York Yankees. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Blue Jays starting Alek Manoah (75) throws a pitch against the New York Yankees. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

What was supposed to be a bullpen day for the Toronto Blue Jays has now turned into a highly anticipated debut for rising prospect Alek Manoah.

Through three starts in triple-A, the 23-year-old has been pitching at an elite level with a 0.50 ERA with three walks, 27 strikeouts and a 0.56 WHIP through 18 innings. It’s clear that he has thrived with the challenge of pitching for the Buffalo Bisons.

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Recently, we discussed why the Blue Jays should consider being patient with Manoah considering what happened to Nate Pearson in his limited time pitching in the majors. At the same time, the team is in a position where they need more than just a reliever to give them innings.

It’s certainly a risk to put a young player in a position where he makes his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium against a tough New York Yankees lineup. At the same time, what better way to know whether Manoah is ready to pitch against an MLB lineup.

What some are concerned about is whether Manoah can trust his other pitches and not rely heavily on his fastball. More importantly, he needs to make sure his command isn’t an issue considering the Yankees will be a challenging outing.

Toronto Blue Jays: Bullpen continues to waste great offensive performances

Sometimes a team overthinks their pitching decisions and the Blue Jays did that in their series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Instead of letting Ross Stripling start from the beginning, Trent Thornton was given the ball and it led to a five-run first inning. Stripling would come in to go seven innings allowing just two hits while striking out seven.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien and Teoscar Hernandez provided the offence to give Toronto a chance to win the game. However, everything unravelled in extra innings where Tampa Bay scored a combined nine runs (seven in the 11th) to earn the sweep.

It has been a rough stretch for the Blue Jays bullpen who have struggled despite the starters going deeper into ballgames. Unfortunately, with Ryan Borucki, David Phelps, Julian Merryweather, Tommy Milone, and of course, Kirby Yates on the shelf, the options for Charlie Montoyo are paper thin right now.

In past seasons, Toronto has been able to put together a respectable bullpen without investing a lot of the payroll to get it done. At some point, this front office has to figure out a solution to get some pitching depth because this could cost the team a trip to the playoffs.

This isn’t a case where George Springer’s absence is leading to this latest rough stretch. It’s an inability to get quality innings from their relievers.

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What are your thoughts on Manoah getting the start against the Yankees? How does the team address the bullpen struggles? Let us know in the comments below.