Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah's nightmare season continued on Monday night, as he was removed from his start against the Houston Astros (GameTracker) in the first inning. Manoah, who was met with a chorus of boos as he walked to the dugout, retired just one of the nine batters he faced and exited with the Blue Jays trailing 6-0. Less than 24 hours later, the Blue Jays demoted him to the complex league.
Manoah surrendered those six runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk. He yielded a home run to Corey Julks, a grand slam, and the one out he recorded came on a deep flyout. Manoah was replaced by right-handed reliever Jay Jackson.
Manoah, 25, finished third last season in American League Cy Young Award voting. It's fair to write that he hasn't enjoyed that kind of success so far in 2023. Instead, his disastrous performance on Monday raised his seasonal ERA to 6.36 through his first 13 appearances. He hasn't completed so many as six innings in a start since April 22.
Manoah's average fastball velocity is down about 1 mph and his slider, his go-to secondary pitch, is not moving as much as last season. He's not locating it -- or locating anything -- well either. Manoah threw 196 2/3 innings last season, a huge workload by today's standards (especially for a 24-year-old), and maybe it's catching up to him. Whatever it is, Manoah is having a poor season.
Manoah, for his part, told MLB.com the following after his most recent start against the Milwaukee Brewers saw him walk more batters than he struck out in four innings:
"It's been tough. I'm not doing what I'm meant to be doing. I just have to keep fighting and finding positives. [...] The mindset of, 'Don't throw a ball here' instead of, 'Throw a strike right here,' it's a difference-maker. Right now, I'm stuck in, 'Don't throw a ball here.'"