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News and Notes: Alek Manoah dealing with injury, what the Blue Jays gain by losing Matt Chapman, and more!

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Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
Guess what’s back, back again, News and Notes is back, tell a friend.
In this edition of News and Notes, we’ll look at two separate news pieces regarding two starters battling for the fifth spot in the rotation. Moreover, former Blue Jay Matt Chapman signed with the San Francisco Giants late on Friday evening, so let’s take a gander at that.

Alek Manoah has shoulder soreness

On Saturday morning, it was reported by MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson that Alek Manoah has shoulder soreness, with the Jays bumping him from his expected start on Sunday.
Matheson also wrote an article about the injury, as well as the starting pitching depth for the team. He quoted manager John Schneider as saying:
“He was throwing and said that it feels a bit cranky, so we wanted to be extra careful at this point” and when asked about the plan going forward, Schneider said “He was throwing and said that it feels a bit cranky, so we wanted to be extra careful at this point, We’ve got the off day Wednesday. Hopefully it’s nothing crazy and he can get right back into it, but we’ll wait and see after a couple of days.”
After finishing third in American League Cy Young voting in 2022, Manoah struggled in 2023. The 26-year-old finished the season with a 5.87 ERA and a 6.01 FIP in 87.1 innings pitched, along with a career-worst 19 K% and 14.2 BB%.
Coming into Spring Training, it was expected that the fifth spot in the rotation was Manoah’s to lose, but there’s one pitcher that could be ahead of him now…

Bowden Francis wants to be a starter

According to a report by Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling at the start of the broadcast on Saturday, Bowden Francis asked to be a starter at the end of last season.
Zwelling notes that the Jays will give him a shot, but he’d have to maintain his velocity in later innings, and also develop a pitch to throw the left-handed batters. Thankfully, a splitter has been in the works and he pitched on Saturday, so let’s look at how he did.
Francis finished with a line of 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, but let’s take a deeper look at that. The fastball topped out at 97.1 mph and averaged 95.5 mph, with the lowest velocity being 93.8 mph towards the end of his outing. He only threw four fastballs in his final inning of work, with three of the four sitting about 94 mph, with the last one sitting just below 96 mph.
As for the splitter, it was thrown six times and averaged 84.3 mph on it, with a maximum velocity of 85.7 mph. It generated a called strike, a foul, a whiff, and three balls, with the whiff being the final pitch of a three-pitch strikeout to Ozzie Albies.
The curveball also generated three swings and misses on eight total swings for a 38 whiff %, so that’s good news. The slider was thrown four times and barely used. If I was in charge, Francis would probably the leading candidate to start in the fifth spot in the rotation.

Ricky Tiedemann to throw a live bullpen Sunday

In another Arden Zwelling report, he noted that Tiedemann felt good during a side session and should be doing a live bullpen on Sunday. Afterwards and if all goes well, he’ll be pitching every five days, with the Jays believing he can build up to five innings before the end of Spring Training.
I don’t need to tell you how good Ricky Tiedemann is, but I’m going to do it anyway. Last season between Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, Tiedemann posted a 3.83 ERA and a 1.98 FIP in 47 innings pitched, along with a 43.7 K% and a 12.2 BB%. For any pitcher with 40 or more innings pitched, Tiedemann’s 31.5 K-BB% led the organization for the second season in a row.
As you can imagine, the stuff is a big reason for his success, as he sits in the mid-to-high-90s with the fastball, maxing out at a tick below 100 mph in the past. On top of that, he features a plus slider and a changeup, which is arguably his best pitch.
If he avoids injuries and can get the BB% down to where he had it in 2022, he could be the Blue Jays’ next ace.

The positives of Matt Chapman signing with the Giants

Late on Friday evening, it was reported that Matt Chapman signed with the San Francisco Giants, meaning the Blue Jays likely go into the season with a combination of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Cavan Biggio, and Santiago Espinal playing third base.
Let’s get this out of the way right now. This is not ideal. However, since the Jays offered Chapman a qualifying offer, which he promptly declined, they will receive a pick at the end of the fourth-round.
While that may not sound like a huge deal because how often do fourth-round picks actually make an impact (a lot more than some people think), there are other ramifications. The biggest is that the Jays will likely receive an additional $450,000 to $500,000 in signing bonus money.
Again, that doesn’t sound like much, but they could deploy a strategy in the draft that sees them using that extra bonus pool money to over slot the player they select with their first pick. The Jays will pick 20th-overall again, which came with a slot value of $3.75 million last season, they can finagle their bonuses around to pick up someone who they otherwise wouldn’t be able to draft.
It’s worth reiterating that losing Chapman and replacing him with Kiner-Falefa is not a great piece of business, but it does come with some positives if you enjoy prospects and the draft. Either way, hopefully they make a trade for someone before the season actually starts, or Orelivs Martinez or Addison Barger have a great Spring Training and win a spot out of camp.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.

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