How Alec Manoah Fulfilled His Wish

© Nick Turchiaro—USA TODAY SPORTS

Baseball teams are like most entities operating with finite resources: If you want to know what they value, look at where those resources are spent. The Toronto Blue Jays clearly value pitching early. He Spent $80 Million Over Four Years hyun jin ryuTwo Top Prospects Plus Seven Years, $131 Million Extension jose berios$110 million over five years kevin gossmanand $36 million over three years yusei kikuchio,

Gossman has been as good as advertised this year, but behind him, the Blue Jays’ foremost pitcher hasn’t been one of their big money acquisitions, but alec manoaah, a 24-year-old on a pre-arbitration contract. And he’s not even the 6-foot-6 Floridian most people expected to be Toronto’s homegrown frontline starter. In 2017, the Blue Jays spent the first round pick Nate PearsonHe touched 95 of the 102 mph fastballs and sliders. pearson Tickled in the top 10 of the global prospect rankings in 2020Whereas Manoh – despite being a first-rounder himself – worked in relative obscurity.

Pearson’s career has stalled, thanks to the many setbacks that would be at home in the Book of Jobs, from a sports hernia to mononucleosis. And that’s where Manoah steps in, who has few eye-catching things, but has the finesse and perseverance that frontline starts with.

Manoah is in the top 15 among qualified starts in innings, eras, strikeouts and combat, but his pitching approach belies his youth. He throws reasonably hard—though an average fastball velocity of 93.9 mph is nothing to write home about in this day and age—but this year his ERA has dropped to below eight tenths of a run , while his strike rate has dropped by five percentage points. This is because he is allowing for less difficult contact than any other qualified starter in the game.

The key to Manoah’s success is the combination of his four-seamer and his sinker, two pitches that meet each other at the same velocity and flight path until the late break diverges wildly. That combination doesn’t always result in swing and miss, but it is exceptionally difficult for a hitter to square up, making it the baseball equivalent of placing your palm on your little brother’s forehead and straightening your arm. so that he can’t hit you back.

Manoah said, “I think the biggest thing I like to do is watch the approach of the hitters, watch their swing path, the way they swing, the way they take the pitch, and some Look at the pitches they’re looking for.” “For me that will decide whether I’m going to sinker or four-seam or how I want to set it up.”

Of course, Manoah didn’t invent this strategy; Many pitchers have made it to great effect even during the height of the four-seamer-heavy, swing-and-miss tulip fever that hit baseball at the end of the last decade. In fact, many of those pitchers have worked for Toronto in recent years, most notably Ryu and Berios, who Baseball Savant Lists Manoah as one of the most equal pitchers in the league in terms of velocity and speed.

Manoah took the opportunity to learn as much as he could from his old teammates.

,[Ryu’s] The design of the pitch may not be the same but the way he lands on his feet and his mechanics and his rhythm is very similar to mine,” said Manoh. “For Berios, it’s really the way he sets up his sinker and his change. For me, I wasn’t really a man of change, but I get to see him, and that’s after a few movements. Not worried about – as long as he’s tunneling it to the sinker, he can use them together. He also mentioned Ray, Gaussman, and . David Phelps He took lessons from the majors during his time as players.

Manoah has had to be a quick learner, because as much as it looks like he burst onto the scene last year as a rookie, his rise is even more meteoric than you might think. Despite his material gifts, he was dropped out of high school, and the three years he spent in West Virginia, only as a full-time starter. After being drafted 11th overall in 2019, he spent all of 2020 pitching at Toronto’s alternate site.

“I think we had a pretty good mock weather,” he said of the alternate site camp. “Still training, still long toss, still facing live hitters. There was a sense of inspiration because this was the time when people were getting to know who was working and who was not. I didn’t need to focus on the results because there were no results. Being able to work on my transformation, my body, my work ethic and routine without worrying about the consequences—I think it allowed me to enjoy that process and be ready for spring training. ,

So Manoah went into the big league rotation in May of 2021, after only nine minor league appearances at any level, and after only two seasons of over 80 total innings. And he was immediately one of Toronto’s best pitchers, striking more than an innings as a batsman and posting a 3.22 ERA in 111 2/3 innings in 20 starts.

“I feel like every step of my journey is preparing me for it,” Manoah said.

Now, despite his youth, Manoah is one of the most essential players on a team that is near-locked to making it post-season. He made his first All-Star team in July, and His innings during the mic made him one of the breakout stars of the game. When a Montreal radio host made insensitive remarks about alejandro kirkie Last week, Manoah jumps to the rescue of his catcher, He is a veteran, in every respect but in age.

And now, a big question facing Toronto interim manager John Schneider is just how hard it is to ride Manoa down the stretch. On one hand, the lead on home turf in the first round could be huge for Toronto, but on the other, the young right-winger now has 54 innings from his previous career high with two weeks left post season on the calendar. . Manoah is currently 16 1/3 innings out of 200, a milestone he considers important because reaching it is proof of a good work ethic, but he is more than happy to pitch or sit.

“I literally told him I didn’t want to be the one making this decision,” he said with a laugh. He is happy to pitch so well that the Blue Jays are scheduling their playoff rotation with him in mind.

“Last year, I moved because we wanted to establish Robbie Ray And our horses, ”he said. “I remember telling myself I wanted to be one of the guys they were grooming for the big games. Now that we’re there, it’s great.”

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