Blue Jays hope Alek Manoah continues turnaround vs. Tigers

Fri May 24 1:41am ET
Field Level Media

Alek Manoah is beginning to resemble the dominant pitcher who was chosen for the 2022 All-Star Game.

After a disastrous 2023 campaign, the Toronto Blue Jays' right-hander has put together back-to-back solid seven-inning outings. He'll make his fourth start of the season against the host Detroit Tigers on Friday night.

Manoah (1-1, 3.00 ERA) allowed only three unearned runs and four hits to the Minnesota Twins on May 12, then limited the Tampa Bay Rays to one hit and one walk while recording his first victory this season.

"He looked great again (Sunday)," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "I just love the way he is attacking the zone. ... His last outing vs. Minnesota and (Sunday), this is probably the best he has looked even going back to 2022."

Manoah was 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA in 2022 but fell on hard times last season, losing his command while going 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA. He walked 59 batters in 87 1/3 innings last season after issuing just 51 walks in 196 2/3 innings the previous year. He wound up in the minors trying in vain to regain his 2022 form.

"I'm not looking back," Manoah said. "I'm not going that way."

In four career starts against Detroit, he's 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA.

He'll be opposed by right-hander Kenta Maeda (1-1, 6.75 ERA), who was activated from the 15-day injured list (illness) on Friday. In his most recent start, he allowed seven runs in two innings on five hits and three walks and didn't figure into Detroit's 11-7 win on May 7 at Cleveland.

Maeda is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against the Blue Jays. He has scattered six hits over 12 innings and struck out 16 while walking five in the games.

The move to option Manning was expected.

"We're lucky that we have at least six capable starters," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch told MLB Network Radio earlier this week. We're not going to go to a six-man [rotation], so it creates a decision point for us."

Toronto won the opener of the four-game series, 9-1, on Thursday night. Daulton Varsho, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Isiah Kiner-Falefa homered for the Blue Jays, who have won four of their past five games.

The Tigers have dropped five straight, getting outscored 41-14 during that span.

"Obviously this is a tough stretch," Hinch said. "I love the plan we have going into every night. Everybody understands it and then you have to go out and execute it. It gets tougher and tougher the more you bring some of the frustrations into the game and the lack of hits pile up on you."