Where does Alek Manoah go from here after Blue Jays option former ace?

Alek Manoah was one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball last year. As the second pitcher out of the gate for the American League in the 2022 MLB All-Star game, the Blue Jays hurler struck out the side while mic’d up in a memorable appearance against National League All-Stars William Contreras, Joc Pederson and Ronald Acuña Jr.

Eleven months later, he’s in the minor leagues.

Manoah was optioned to the Florida Complex League after a disastrous start against the Houston Astros on Monday. The right-hander failed to get out of the first inning in his seventh straight losing decision, retiring just one of the nine batters he faced. 

Manoah, who was a 2022 American League Cy Young Award finalist, is 1-7 with a 6.36 ERA in 13 starts this season.

“A lot of things I’ve been working on, I didn’t really have a chance to go out there and use that,” Manoah said after Monday’s game.

Manoah has already issued 33 walks this season after only walking 51 batters in 2022. FOX Sports MLB analyst John Smoltz sees that as a big cause for Manoah’s overall struggles.

“I think you can point right to the walks and the command,” Smoltz said on Saturday’s episode of “Flippin’ Bats,” which was recorded before Manoah’s most recent start. “He’s a command guy that can strike you out, but he pitches to both sides of the plate, and he’s fearless with that.

“I remember talking to him through the All-Star Game and his attitude and everything about what he did last year just seemed like he had arrived and had confidence through the roof, and could throw the ball where he wanted to. … [The walks are] a little bit alarming for me and if he cuts down on his walks, which to me is all centric with his mechanics and his ability to throw the ball where he wants to, I honestly think that is going to be what makes the difference.”

Ben Verlander, John Smoltz break down Alek Manoah’s struggles

Ben Verlander and John Smoltz break down Alek Manoah’s struggles this season.

According to Smoltz, that also takes a toll on a pitcher’s mentality.

“If you lose either side of the plate, it starts becoming mental,” Smoltz said. “And that’s where you have to refocus on your mechanics and get back into film and look at simple things to fix instead of trying to carve out the whole pie.”

Smoltz fondly recalled Manoah’s confidence during his All-Star Game appearance last year while the pitcher talked to him and his broadcast partner, Joe Davis, throughout his dominant inning.

“Unfortunately for him this year, he’s far away from that moment of confidence and the ability to get to navigate a game without the command is going to be an issue for him,” Smoltz added.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider hinted that a drastic move with Manoah might have been in the works.

“When I say that everything is on the table, yeah, everything is,” Schneider said. “We’re just trying to help him get back to the caliber of pitcher that he was.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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