TORONTO – After two-plus months of frustrating results, the Blue Jays optioned opening day starter Alek Manoah to the Florida Complex League Tuesday.
The move, which was announced by the team, will give Manoah some distance from the pressure of the major leagues, where he posted a 6.36 ERA in 13 starts after finishing third in Cy Young voting a year ago.
It also sets in motion a series of questions for the Blue Jays, who don’t have a starter lined up for Saturday’s game against the Twins. A bullpen game is possible, with Trevor Richards and the recently selected Bowden Francis among the candidates to provide length.
Three off days later this month may ease the pressure to find rotation help, but for the first time this year the Blue Jays must look beyond their starting five. And with underwhelming starts to the season from Mitch White, Zach Thompson (who was designated for assignment Tuesday) and others, there are no sure-fire solutions in the minors.
Manoah’s velocity was down in 2023, and his slider has been hit much harder than usual, but perhaps most concerning was a total lack of command. He leads the American League with 42 walks after walking just 51 hitters all of last year.
The advanced metrics tell a similar story. Among 96 pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, Manoah ranks 96th in strikeout minus walk rate (2.1%), 95th in xERA (6.42) and 95th in FIP.
Of course, at 25 years old there’s still plenty of time for Manoah to regain the form that made him an all-star. And — as Roy Halladay showed with the Blue Jays decades ago — there are times that a reset in the minors can benefit all involved.
For now, though, there are still more questions than answers, both for Manoah, whose career trajectory looked much different a couple of months ago, and a Blue Jays team whose already thin pitching depth is about to get tested further.
The Manoah move was part of a number of transactions made by the Blue Jays Tuesday.
- Right-hander Chris Bassitt reinstated from the paternity list
- Infielder Santiago Espinal activated from the 10-day IL
- Infielder Ernie Clement and right-hander Jay Jackson optioned to triple-A
- Contract for right-hander Bowden Francis selected to major-league roster
- Right-hander Zach Thompson designated for assignment
Kevin Gausman will start for the Blue Jays Tuesday night in the second of four games against the Astros. First pitch on Sportsnet and SN NOW is set for 7:07 p.m. ET/ 4:07 p.m. PT.