Alek Manoah focusing on process over results following recent triple-A start: ‘I felt good about the way that I was attacking’

Photo credit:James P. McCoy
Thomas Hall
12 days ago
Alek Manoah performed much, much better in his first outing with Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday than the box score would have you believe.
The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander started the first game of a doubleheader for the Bisons, throwing to a familiar face behind the plate, Danny Jansen, who was also on assignment rehabbing an injury. And the two worked seamlessly together, even though that success didn’t translate onto the scoreboard.
Manoah allowed four runs — all earned — on eight hits and one walk while striking out four over 3.1 innings. He threw 78 pitches, 48 as strikes, accounting for a 61.5 per cent strike rate.
Attacking the strike zone was, by far, the 26-year-old’s top priority, especially after he failed to do so in his start with Single-A Dunedin last weekend. In that game, he walked four and plunked another, surrendering six earned runs on five hits over an inning and two-thirds.
This time was different. Several bounces didn’t fall Manoah’s way, particularly in a first inning where he gave up two hits on three batted balls, none of which left the infield. But rather than allow matters to escalate, he put his head down and struck out the next two batters to end the frame. From there, he used that bulldog mentality to carry him into the fourth.
“It’s just continue to attack,” Manoah told reporters post-game, including Sportsnet’s David Singh. “I can’t control results. I can’t control balls in the infield. I can’t control the weather. I can’t control any of that. I can’t control once the ball leaves my hand.
“I can make the best pitch possible and they can hit it 400 feet,” he added. “What am I supposed to do? So, my job out there is to attack. And today I was attacking and I feel like I was throwing the ball pretty well.”
The results weren’t there for Manoah, whose inflated ERA now sits at 18.00 across five minor-league innings as he continues building up from a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for most of spring training and landed him on the 15-day IL.
A pitcher’s process, however, is often more important than the final outcome during their rehab assignment. While the 2022 All-Star’s metrics will need to improve eventually, being able to locate his pitches where they need to go is certainly a positive development, one he’ll aim to build on in his next outing.
“[We] wanted to fill up the zone today,” Jansen said of Manoah. “I did like his aggression and I liked his confidence in the pitches. We were just trying to go right after guys.”
Go after them he did, as Manoah attacked the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate with fastballs, with his four-seamer and two-seamer combining for 57 of his 78 pitches (73.1 per cent). Together, they were responsible for three of his four punchouts on the afternoon, generating seven whiffs.
Another encouraging sign from Manoah is six of the eight hits he allowed were singles. Two came off the bat of first baseman Juan Yepez, who won an 11-pitch at-bat in his second of two matchups versus the 2022 American League Cy Young finalist.
He lost the battle, but, in a way, he was also victorious.
“I made my pitch and he hit a ground ball up the middle,” Manoah said. “Any other day, the defence could have been there, any other day the defence is not there. He won it this time and at the end of the day, for me, that’s not what matters.
“What matters is he’s battling and I didn’t shy away from anything. I continued to attack.”
Limiting hard contact was another encouraging takeaway from Manoah’s outing, as only five of the 14 batted balls against him produced an exit velocity of at least 95 m.p.h.
Despite enduring cold conditions on the mound, the 6-foot-6 hurler also impressed with his velocity, maxing out at 94.9 m.p.h. with his four-seamer and 95.6 with his two-seamer. His averages dipped as the game progressed, though the less-than-ideal temperatures likely caused that.
The Blue Jays are expected to have Manoah make another start with the Bisons later this week, where he’ll attempt to stretch his pitch count closer to the 100 mark. But it remains unclear when he could return to the big leagues.
“I think they’re [the Blue Jays] trying to look for me being healthy and they know that the stuff is there and those results will come. I feel like I threw the ball well today so just gotta continue to build off that,” Manoah replied.
Manoah hasn’t pitched in the majors since Aug. 10, 2022, when he allowed four runs on four hits and three walks but fanned six against the Cleveland Guardians before being optioned to the minors for a second time.

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