One month after last Blue Jays appearance, Manoah’s season likely over

Ben Nicholson-Smith joins Blake Murphy on Jays Talk Plus to discuss Alek Manoah’s potential role in 2024 after a lacklustre 2023 season getting optioned down to Triple-A and effectively shutting down his entire season.

TORONTO — One month after Alek Manoah last pitched in a professional game, it’s becoming less and less likely the 25-year-old will pitch again this season, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Manoah got further medical testing done last week, meeting with multiple specialists to determine the severity of wear and tear on his knee, back, and right quad. No structural damage was found, so the team kept the door open to triple-A in the hopes that the right-hander would continue providing organizational depth as the big-league team pushes for the playoffs.

However, one source said Manoah’s lingering physical issues are leading him to prioritize rest and recovery in the hopes that his health would benefit in the short- and long-term. While a return to a professional mound hasn’t fully been ruled out, it’s considered highly unlikely at this stage. Manoah has not pitched off a mound in a month and just two weeks remain in the triple-A schedule.

In the meantime, the Blue Jays will continue operating as though Manoah is unavailable to them — a reality that first set in a few weeks ago and has become progressively more clear since. If an additional starter is needed, Bowden Francis would likely get the ball in what would amount to a bullpen game.

Manoah last pitched on Aug. 10, when he allowed four runs on four hits in four innings to the Cleveland Guardians while striking out six and walking three. The next day, the Blue Jays optioned the 25-year-old to triple-A Buffalo in the hopes that he could provide rotation depth for the stretch run.

In the aftermath of that roster move, Manoah didn’t report right away as he was about to undergo testing in Toronto and it wasn’t yet clear whether a stint on the injured list would be required. He would later report to triple-A, but was placed on the temporarily inactive list to free up a roster spot in Buffalo.

More testing followed last week, and it’s now becoming likely Manoah’s season will end on the sidelines.

In 2022, the right-hander finished third in American League Cy Young voting, with a 2.24 ERA in 196.2 innings during his first full season. But early-season struggles in 2023 led to a demotion to the Florida Complex League on June 6.

After a month of work behind the scenes, Manoah returned to the big-leagues on July 7, where he impressed in Detroit against the Tigers. By then, he had missed about a month of service time, likely costing him Super Two eligibility and a chance at four trips through arbitration. He has not collected big-league pay or service time for the last month.

Now, Manoah will look to recover with the intention of bouncing back in 2024. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays will continue pushing for the playoffs without their Opening Day starter. 

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