‘We Gotta Win’: Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah Fortifies Big-Game Reputation
AlekManoah’s 2022 debut was delayed.
On opening day, the big righty of the Blue Jays watched from the dugout. He was nestled between Zack Collins & Yusei Kikuchi. Jose Berrios, a veteran, was given the opening duties for Manoah’s second season.
Manoah knows when his time comes. After just 21 MLB starts, the 24-year-old has already established himself as a big-game pitcher, embracing the bright lights and elevating his play during Toronto’s playoff push last year. Manoah was Toronto’s fourth starter 2022, but he’ll soon be an Opening Day guy, especially if he continues to rise up to the occasion, as he did Monday.
” There is an extra sense that we have to win this frickin’ game, I think. Manoah spoke of facing tough opposition. “But I want to do good against everyone, that’s my goal. “
The tougher the competition, the better Manoah did last year. Below. 500, Manoah posted a 4.1 ERA in nine starts. The ERA was lower than the one above. 500, the ERA dropped to 2.56. In two 2021 starts against the Yankees, the rookie posted a 2. 31, and in his 2022 debut, the New York domination continued.
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Manoah punch into his glove as Alejandro Kirk fired him back the ball after a first-pitch strike to begin the game. He was already on the mound two pitches later, with a strikeout under him, and returning to the rubber to hunt for the next pitch. The next two batters were not as lucky. Manoah caught Aaron Judge in the act after dropping a sneaky changeup with Anthony Rizzo. The change-of-speed pitch has been a topic Manoah has been pondering over the past few seasons, as he searches for the perfect compliment to his slider and fastballs. He threw it 15 times on Monday, but it didn’t look like the change he threw less than 10% of the time in 2021. The pitch sat around 87 MPH and dove under bats with late-life thanks to much higher spin rates than his changeup from last year.
The Yankees’ fourth weapon proved too strong for Manoah, who finished with six shutout innings and seven strikeouts. He also had one hit against. Even when Manoah was in trouble in the fourth, when he lost his release point, the defense was there for him. Manoah brought in a broken-bat batter after Manoah had loaded the bases on three walks.
As Matt Chapman fell on his left, swiping at a bouncing ball with his right hand, Bo Bichette swooped in from behind to backhand it. The shortstop fielded and flung the ball across the diamond, hitting Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s glove first.
As the out was recorded Manoah bounced back into the dugout and released a “Let’s Go” as the first pitch was pumped. The 24-year-old knows he’ll get his starts and doesn’t care when they come–the Jays will certainly take 30 more like Monday’s–but if he keeps rising to the moment, the big games will find him.
” It would be cool for me, when I have the time, to be able get a few [Opening Day starts],” Manoah quotes.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.