With the Toronto Blue Jays needing to stay alive in the AL playoff race, Alek Manoah delivered when the team needed him to the most.
If the Toronto Blue Jays plan on making a push to clinch a playoff spot, they are going to need a combination of pitching and hitting to get them there. Alek Manoah certainly did his part.
Coming into Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, Manoah had already established himself as a crucial component of the team’s rotation. Then he pitched 6.2 innings allowing two runs on five hits and striking out 11 batters.
It improved his ERA to 2.59 while becoming the fastest Blue Jays rookie to reach 70 career strikeouts and tying the team’s single-game record of 11 strikeouts which was last accomplished by Scott Richmond in 2009.
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What’s important to remember here is that this isn’t just one elite outing that’s causing a buzz among Blue Jays fans. He also pitching in 12 games this season and has only a handful of outings where he wasn’t at his best.
At 23-years-old, it’s impressive to see Manoah not get caught up in the pressure on this young Blue Jays team trying to move up in the AL standings. Considering how volatile the bullpen has been this season, getting quality starts out of the rotation has been crucial to Toronto’s success and that hasn’t been too much for the Florida native to deal with.
This is the calibre of pitcher that the Blue Jays projected Manoah to become when he was selected 11th overall back in 2019 and his path to the big leagues has been impressive. It’s certainly been helpful that he isn’t counted on to be the ace of this staff either.
With Ross Stripling sidelined with an injury and Steven Matz struggling lately, having Manoah able to contribute like has made life a lot easier for Charlie Montoyo. This is also why the addition of Jose Berrios was deemed an important one because it provided another quality starter to avoid any issues in case of an injury.
Toronto Blue Jays have the right ingredients to make a push for the playoffs
There is no doubting the talent on this Blue Jays roster but it doesn’t mean anything if can’t all come together. A strong offensive night can be done away with a rough outing from the team’s pitching or the defence not making the plays when they need to.
Right now, the Blue Jays seem to have found the combination that can make them a team to fear down the stretch. It’s not just the lineup that should provide fans with confidence about this team either.
The rotation continues to provide the type of consistent pitching that is needed and the bullpen isn’t being put in as many tough situations. It will also help when the team can add more arms to the relief staff like Nate Pearson and Julian Merryweather.
Now two-and-a-half games back of a wild card spot, Toronto should be able to narrow the gap if they can continue their latest stretch as they are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Whether or not the team can close the gap on the Rays for the AL East division lead is going to be interesting especially after the Boston Red Sox put up 20 runs on Tampa Bay. Toronto also has an AL East best 132-run differential which is a good indication of them being better than their 62-51 record.
What are your thoughts on Manoah’s performance against the Angels? Can this team make the playoffs and even compete for the AL East crown? Let us know in the comments below.