The right-handed triple A Buffalo’s latest gem – a run on four hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts in six innings against Worcester – made for a seductive juxtaposition against the striking Ross Stripling taken from the Boston Red Sox in a 7- 3 loss Wednesday night.
Stripling gave up five straight hits to open the game, including a starting single to Kike Hernandez ahead of back-to-back home runs from Alex Verdugo and JD Martinez, as part of a five-point opening frame that left the Blue Jays too deep underwater to recover.
Even though he’s recovered enough to at least give manager Charlie Montoyo 3.2 innings of work, the 31-year-old wonders “if you go back to the drawing board and change a few things.” And as the 23-year-old high prospect was pushing simultaneously at Polar Park, after seeing his start pushed back a day to line up with Stripling, well, you can pretty much guess what happened.
The two are then expected to pitch on Monday, when the Blue Jays complete a four-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays. Throwing Manoah’s high-end stuff on a division rival instead of Stripling’s mix-match-and-locate repertoire certainly has some appeal, especially with the latter questioning its approach.
Does it make sense to keep Stripling off while it is making an adjustment? Is one turn of rotation enough to prove him right?
“Maybe, I mean, he’s smart enough to do it. I know it, ”said director Charlie Montoyo. ” Then maybe. We’ll see. I know exactly what you are saying, but we’ll see. This is my response to you.
In contrast to this thoughtful and measured response, there were the immediate pro-Manoah rallying cries.
Let it ride! What is there to lose? Do not waste these departures among minors! He couldn’t do worse! It’s time to find out!
It all sounds so tempting, and Manoah’s work with the Bisons is really urgent.
In three starts, he struck out 27 goals in 18 innings, allowing one run on seven hits and three goals. It’s a man versus boy thing, and his cocky strutting around the mound angered Worcester hitters, Danny Santana in particular, who tweeted the six-foot-six right-hander as they battled in the sixth inning ( Manoah broke Santana’s bat but her rocket hit green in left for a single).
The guy is going to be a lot of fun every time he arrives.
And it’s easy to imagine playing better than Stripling, who in the first was burned on a curve ball at Hernandez, had the wind spoiling a change from Verdugo (“just a horrible pitch that deserved to be hit for a home run ”) before Martinez hammered a slider for back-to-back longballs, gave up a single to Xander Bogarets on a change before Rafael Devers unleashed a fastball for a double. Christian Vazquez’s RBI groundout came on a fastball as Bobby Dalbec capped the rally by doubling up on a curveball, with the Red Sox having an answer for whatever Stripling threw at them.
After Hernandez pulled off a quick homer in the second, Stripling retired eight times in a row, but down 6-1 with Garrett Richards settling in after a shaky first, it was too little, too late.
“I gave up three points before I blinked, basically. And then the next two guys got shots and I’m looking at the second and the third, nobody comes out with three already in it. There, man, you mold the best you can and try to keep it where it is, limit the damage and give your team a chance to get back to it. I really couldn’t do it, ”said Stripling. “It’s just frustrating. What you can build on is still understanding that you still have the edge as a pitcher. I mean, hell man, we’re up to six no-hitters on the season now. Like, pitching is ahead of hitting right now. And you should feel like you have all the benefits. But sometimes when you look at the scoreboard you’ve given up six points, it’s hard to be confident in real time. You just got to hold your head up and keep plugging in, man, and understanding that we have a really good training and have a chance to get back into the ball game. It just didn’t work in this one.
All of this reinforces the emotional case of Manoah’s time.
Is it, however?
Manoah has nine – nine! – The professional is starting to his credit and although he has played six rounds in each of his outings this year, he has yet to throw a throw beyond. As he grows, that’s okay, but if he’s not yet spent seven years as a pro, is it reasonable to expect that if he’s promoted now, he ends up doing it a bit regularly in the majors?
Maybe, but is this the optimal growth path for him?
Consider this too: In the sixth inning on Wednesday, the top of the Minor League Red Sox roster beat Manoah on 22 shots and left the runners in the first and second row when Marcus Wilson lined up on the left.
This experience is valuable because doing the same will be much more difficult against the Big League Red Sox. Learning how to fight fatigue to beat hitters who’ve seen you twice before, or how to survive an ambush in the first inning when nothing works, is best done at triple-A, and Manoah must master both to become a front. -of-the- rotation starter in the majors.
Nate Pearson’s Uneven Transition is a relevant case study of how pure things aren’t enough and these are the kinds of subtleties GM Ross Atkins refers to when he talks about developing the whole perspective.
If you don’t give a pitcher the chance to learn how to dive deep into games, to build benchmarks on how to handle a variety of different situations, you’re putting them on a five-dive course.
Stripling’s recovery shows why this is important. He could have withered, not evaded the first and thrown more eight into the Blue Jays’ pen. Instead, he recovered, ate nearly three more innings and allowed Montoyo to cope with Trent Thornton, Jeremy Beasley and AJ Cole, leaving the backup corps in better shape for Thursday.
There isn’t much satisfaction to be found in that, and in a world of easy and instant response, engaging in Manoah for the next time would certainly be a cure.
The Blue Jays, however, cannot afford to think of his promotion in irrational and magical terms. As competitive as Manoah may be right now, they need to look at the big picture and not truncate his development in search of a quick fix.