Toronto sent Alec Manoa, 25, who was expected to be one of the team’s aces, down to its Florida training facility on Sunday. The idea was to calmly pick apart his issues one by one and come back to the organization.
Manoa, who made his major league debut in 2021 and quickly became an integral part of Toronto’s starting rotation, went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA in 196⅔ innings over 31 games last year. It was a performance that was recognized by all, as he finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. Toronto believed that Manoa would be a formidable one-two punch alongside Kevin Gausman this year.
But his performance this year has been inexplicably down. In the first 13 games of the season, he went 58 innings, but finished with a 1-7 record and a 6.36 ERA. His batting average jumped from .202 last year to .289, and his walk rate jumped from 2.33 to 6.52 per nine innings. That suggests it wasn’t just one thing. Impatient, Toronto eventually sent Manoa down to the training facility.
While Manoa is down, it’s not like Toronto’s starting rotation is collapsing. They still have quality pitchers in Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, 먹튀검증 and Yusei Kikuchi. The problem is that even they are up and down. Toronto can’t afford to slip further in the win column and standings, so it could be argued that they need more starting pitching.
The Jays are currently in the midst of a rehabilitation process for their former ace, Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, from elbow surgery. Ryu is currently in the final stages of bullpen work and is expected to move to live pitching soon. After about three live pitches, he will make a minor league rehabilitation appearance before returning to the major leagues. The goal is the end of July, but if it’s a little later, it could be early August.
This has local media worried about the June-July schedule, when both Manoa and Ryu could be unavailable. Sportsnet, a Canadian sports network and Toronto’s main broadcaster, claimed on June 13 that “with Alec Manoa off to Florida and no guarantee that Hyun-jin Ryu will be ready when he returns, it’s safe to say Toronto needs a starting pitcher.
Manoa’s correction could take time, and Ryu is still recovering from surgery, so it’s best to be conservative, Sportsnet argued. “A stopgap solution until either Manoa or Hyun-jin Ryu is ready would be a great move for Toronto,” Sportsnet said, adding that with so many starting pitchers under long-term contracts, the team needs to find a starting pitcher at a reasonable cost.
One candidate Sportsnet identified is former Samsung pitcher Ben Lively (31, Cincinnati), who is enjoying a resurgence in the major leagues this year. Lively, who pitched for Samsung from 2019 to 2021, was called up this year after signing with Cincinnati and took the mound for the first time since 2019. His performance hasn’t been bad. In seven appearances (five starts), he’s 3-4 with a 4.21 ERA.
Sportsnet notes that Lively could be worth more in a trade because he’s more than a year away from salary adjustment, “He has a slow sinker that averages 91.6 miles per hour, but he has an extension that helps mitigate that problem. He also throws six different pitches, which is a change from the three he had before heading to Korea.
‘While Lively’s stuff doesn’t blow anything away, he still has (minor league) options left and has been relatively good this season. He’ll throw strikes wherever he goes,” and “Toronto can utilize him as needed in 2023 and send him to Triple-A as insurance.
Cincinnati isn’t a team that’s likely to make the postseason this year, and it’s hard to imagine Lively being in the team’s long-term plans, so the Reds could look at him positively if the right offer is made.