Alek Manoah made his return to Major League Baseball Friday evening in Detroit. The big right-hander made his first start at the big league level in a little over a month, after he was sent all the way down to the Florida Complex League in June.
In his first game back at the MLB level, Manoah put forth one of the best starts of his 2023 season.
The former Mountaineer pitched six innings, recorded a season-high eight strikeouts, held the Tigers lineup to just one run on five hits, and did not issue a walk. This is his longest MLB outing since he pitched seven innings on April 22, and the first time he has recorded at least eight strikeouts in a game since Sept. 24, 2022.
Manoah’s good fortune started in the first inning, when he struck out former No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson looking on a nasty slider. The big right-handed hurler was also able to recover from an awkward balk later in the inning, which put a runner in scoring position.
Manoah recorded back-to-back punchies to end the second inning and picked up another punch out in the third. Each of his first four strikeouts on the night were looking and went into the scorebook as a backward K.
Throwing 70.3 percent of his pitches for strikes, Manoah hit his spot more often than not. However, when the WVU alumnus did miss his spot or didn’t like his mechanics on any given pitch, he was quick to outwardly talk to himself or mimic the mistake in order to correct the mistake.
Manoah retired a string of nine batters in a row, starting in the third and ending in the sixth inning. Even after the retired batters streak ended, Manoah punctuated his performance by striking out the side in the sixth.
He earned his first victory on a major league mound since April 5.
Blue Jays manager John Schneider had told reporters over the past few days that Manoah being recalled to the Blue Jays roster this week was not solely because of his 10-strikeout performance at the Double-A level on Sunday. While Toronto was pleased with the performance, the organization was also pleased with what they had seen behind the scenes, including some changes he made to his delivery.
Blue Jays play-by-play broadcaster Dan Shulman noted one of those changes was in the pace of Manoah’s delivery. Shulman characterized the start as “encouraging” for the former Mountaineer.
“He was great. He was everything we know he can be,” Toronto outfielder George Springer told Sportsnet after the game. “He was good. So hopefully he can just keep on going and be an anchor for us and that staff.”
Barring something unforeseen, Manoah will remain with Toronto moving forward. The Blue Jays have two games remaining before MLB’s All-Star break, and then begin the second half of the regular season with a six-game home stand. Manoah’s next start will likely come against either the Arizona Diamondbacks (50-38) or the San Diego Padres (41-46).