We always get excited about big-time prospects getting the call for the first time, and they don't often live up to the hype in that first start. In fact, lately, it seems like rookies have been a bit less impressive on the whole than in recent years. Nobody told Alek Manoah that's how it's supposed to be.
Manoah made his debut for the Blue Jays on Thursday after just nine professional starts, but he sure didn't look raw in mowing down the Yankees. He threw 88 pitches over six innings of work, allowing just two singles and two walks while striking out seven. And he displayed an unusually deep repertoire for a player with so little experience.
OK, it was only four pitches -- four-seam fastball, sinker, slider, and changeup -- but it was the quality of each pitch that stood out. Manoah, who stands 6-foot-6, got excellent results from his four-seamer especially, picking up six whiffs on 14 swings with the pitch, which he primarily threw in the mid-90s, up in the zone and with a ton of spin -- a good combination for whiffs.
But we expect young pitchers to have good fastballs these days. His secondary pitchers were also pretty exceptional, too. Though he only got two swinging strikes on 26 of those, you can clearly see how much trouble that pitch is going to give right-handed hitters when you see this one, courtesy of Nick Pollack from PitcherList.com:
That's everything you want from a slider coming off a good fastball. He paints the corner of the zone with it, putting Judge into an unenviable position: Offer at a pitch falling off the plate or let it go by for a strike. He didn't get many whiffs, but he sported a solid 31% caught-plus-swinging strike rate with the pitch and allowed an average exit velocity of just 77.9 mph. Pretty strong stuff.
The changeup was expected to be the lesser of the two secondaries, and he threw half as many of them in his debut as he did sliders, though with the Yankees pretty middling group of left-handed hitters, maybe he just didn't need them as much. Here's what that changeup did to Gleyber Torres, again from PitcherList:
Manoah doesn't suddenly rank among the aces in the game, but he looked every bit the part of a future ace in his debut. The short-handed Yankees aren't exactly the toughest possible matchup, but he came armed with four pitches he was comfortable throwing in multiple counts and showed command with all four of them. In fact, maybe the most impressive thing was that he used them all in the first inning. That suggests a ton of confidence.
He also threw 88 pitches, a pretty solid number in a season when rookie pitchers are averaging fewer than 75 pitches per start across their first three. If Manoah is available in any leagues, he shouldn't be. Make sure you're the one who can add him.
Here's who else we're looking at on waivers heading into the weekend:
- We talk Manoah, Dylan Cease, Lucas Sims and two-start pitchers for Week 10 on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
LAA L.A. Angels • #19 • Age: 31
Back at the start of the offseason, Fantasy players were in a familiar place with Villar: He was someone you would begrudgingly be willing to draft because his speed is invaluable. Then the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor and we were freed of that obligation, until … well, until typical Mets things happened. Half their roster is injured these days, which has Villar in the everyday lineup, and he's responded with a pretty Villar-y performance lately: He's hitting .228 in the month of May but with four homers and five stolen bases. You never feel great about having to rely on Villar, but here we are with Villar playing everyday, producing while being eligible at three positions. Just add him in your Roto leagues. It won't be that bad, I promise.
Lucas Sims RP
CIN Cincinnati • #39 • Age: 28
Sims hasn't been as good as hoped for this season, but neither has anyone else in the Reds bullpen, really. Sims got the team's first save in eight games Tuesday night and then got the next one Thursday night, striking out one on 11 pitches to get his third save of the season. Frankly, I have no idea if this means Sims is likely to get the next save for the Reds, but he is the first pitcher for the Reds to record two saves in a row since Amir Garrett on April 5 and 9. If you're speculating, Sims seems like the guy right now.
TB Tampa Bay • #18 • Age: 25
McClanahan is another rookie pitcher who has been extremely impressive in his first taste of the majors, and he continued that with five shutout innings against the Royals on Thursday. He struck out six and allowed just three hits, though he was pulled with just 63 pitches, as the Rays continue to treat him carefully. I'm skeptical that will ever change, but it's not like there are a ton of pitchers racking up big innings these days, and McClanahan has thrown at least five innings in his last three starts. He's got the stuff to be a normal starter, with a legit four-pitch mix and much better command than expected, so if he's still out there and you're still searching for upside, maybe McClanahan can earn more trust. The way he's pitching, hopefully it doesn't take long.
PHI Philadelphia • #37 • Age: 30
It's been quite a while since Herrera was Fantasy relevant, and at this point he's lucky the Phillies even gave him another chance. But he is playing well lately, hitting .289 in the month of May while starting pretty much every day. He went 2 for 4 Thursday against the Marlins with a double and a triple, and has added three steals in his 23 starts. If you need outfield help, Herrera is widely available and probably belongs in the starting conversation in five-outfielder category-based leagues.
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