Is Blue Jays starter Manoah pitching his way out of the big leagues?

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Alek Manoah is a broken man and the Blue Jays are running out of answers — and time — to figure out how to fix their larger-than-life starter.

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It showed on the scoreboard on Monday night, when Manoah’s slide in form hit rock bottom as he managed just one out after allowing six first-inning runs in a disheartening and humiliating 11-4 loss to the Houston Astros.

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It bubbled over from those among the impatient (and, let’s face it, heartless) Rogers Centre fans who booed Manoah as he laboured, then cheered when he was given in the hook by manager John Schneider.

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But most importantly, it is apparent to all who have seen him struggle through 13 starts – including the worst appearance of his young career on Monday – that Manoah is wearing all of the woe right now.

So now it’s on the front office. Can general manager Ross Atkins afford to continue sending a shattered Manoah out there until he works things out?

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Is the razor-thin organizational depth at starting pitching about to be exposed and further compromise a team with an under-achieving record?


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We’ll likely soon find out, because it’s clear to those who see Manoah daily that the once brash starter has lost his way.

“I’m around him a lot and there’s definitely been some times that you can tell he’s confused and not used to struggling,” Jays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said prior to Monday’s game. “There’s something going on and we’re all just rooting for him to get out of it.

“But I don’t think he’s pitching with a lot of confidence.”

That is apparent to all who see Manoah’s body language when things veer off the rails, as has been the case far too often this season.

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When asked prior to the game whether a trip to triple-A Buffalo to regroup is an option, Jays manager John Schneider said  of Manoah, whose record has plummeted to 1-7: “It hasn’t been brought up” then added “as of now.”

While it’s possible the manager might have been fudging, it’s not as if the options are plentiful. And really, after Monday’s frankly shocking ineptitude those final three words could be telling. And would anyone be surprised now if a trip to the minors happens?

“We’re talking about a really good  pitcher whose going through a bit of a tough time,” Schneider said. “The cool thing with this team and this organization is we’re willing to do anything that we feel like we need to do to help you and players understand that.”

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The latest gruesome outing followed a rather miserable May in which Manoah was 0-5 in six starts in which he walked more batters (21) than he struck out (20.)

“I think you take the person out of it and you always try to do whats best for the person and the competitor,” Schneider said when asked if the team has considered having Manoah skip a start. “We haven’t done it yet.

“He’s adamant that he wants to get out there and compete and help his team win. We’re just trying to do everything that we can to help him get there.”

As rough as the season has been for Manoah, the latest went sideways in a hurry. After a leadoff single to Mauricio Dubon – on the first pitch of the game, no less – Jeremy Pena laid down a slow-rolling bunt down the third-base line. For comic relief, Manoah got to his knees and mockingly attempted to blow the ball foul, to no avail.

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There was nothing amusing about the rest of the inning – which included a grand slam home run off the bat of Astros left fielder Corey Julks.

By the stunningly quick end, Manoah had thrown an unsightly 38 pitches, retired just one batter and essentially had taken his team out of the game.

The demise has been rough on Manoah, of course, but excruciating to watch for the teammates who care for him and have seen him have seen him go from opening day starter to the potential of temporarily pitching his way out of the rotation.

“This game will humble you and make you feel really low at times, but you never want to forget what got you here,” Kiermaier said. “For Manoah, we just want him to get out of his own head and get some momentum going for him.

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“He’s worn it like a man. He hasn’t hanged his he’d or pouted or brought anybody down. He’s taken it on the chin and he’s trying to be better.”

Where that momentum starts and where it happens is the big and pressing question. But can the Jays really afford to let it happen on a major league mound?


The dud outing from Manoah was a rough start to a four-game series against the Astros that has some playoff overtones. As the Jays slipped to 33-28, they dropped 3.5 games in arrears of the reigning champs, who hold down the second AL wildcard spot … More on the void in starting depth? Mitch White – who was supposed to battle for the fifth spot in spring training but battled injuries, isn’t exactly lighting it up at triple A Buffalo … The early Manoah exit started a parade of relievers, six in total with the first of the crew, Jay Jackson, eating the most innings at 2.2 … It came in garbage time, but Daulton Varsho hit his 10th homer in the eighth. Earlier, Alejandro Kirk hit his second of the season.


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