After two weeks without taking the mound, Alek Manoah is getting back to work.
The fact the big right-hander hadn't pitched since the Toronto Blue Jays demoted him in mid-August was cause for some speculation, but it appears that Manoah was taking a variety of medical tests to confirm he was healthy before resuming his season.
Per sources, Alek Manoah is slated to join the #BlueJays’ triple-A affiliate in Syracuse today after undergoing a wide range of medical tests in Toronto over the last couple weeks. With no major structural issues, he's now preparing to build back up. More @Sportsnet shortly.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) August 24, 2023
After pitching 196.2 innings of 2.24 ERA ball in 2022 — earning a trip to the All-Star Game and a third-place finish in Cy Young voting — Manoah's 2023 has been a lost season. A variety of factors ranging from a dip in velocity, to decreased movement on his signature slider, to a simple lack of control have torpedoed the 25-year-old's production.
As such, the Blue Jays find themselves in an odd situation with Manoah.
He is likely to be a crucial long-term piece for the club considering he was a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in 2021 and 2022 and won't reach free agency until the end of the 2027 season. Getting him right over the long haul has to be the franchise's priority.
At the same time, he's currently the team's sixth starter, an important level of depth in case anyone in the team's rotation gets injured in the weeks to come.
There may come a time during the stretch run when the Blue Jays feel they need him for competitive reasons while at still believing the best thing for him might be more work at Triple-A. Those are the type of scenarios you can encounter in an extremely close playoff race — especially if your depth is lacking.
A situation like that isn't imminent or guaranteed to happen by any means, though. Even if it does, the Blue Jays could opt to cover missing starts with a bullpen that has no shortage or arms — a few of whom have minor-league options, allowing them to shuffle pitching up and down from Triple-A, depending on who's fresh.
For now, Manoah will have the opportunity to get stretched out again and finish his season on a productive note, whether that means pitching for the Blue Jays in 2023 again or not.