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Former West Virginia Star Alek Manoah Makes MLB History as a Rookie

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With the 11th pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Toronto Blue Jays selected West Virginia standout pitcher Alek Manoah. The big righty worked his way up the Blue Jays’ top prospects list — entering the 2021 season as the Jays’ fifth-ranked prospect — before making his debut on May 27.

Manoah has done nothing but impress since making his debut with a two-hit, seven-strikeout shutout over six innings against the New York Yankees. He’s now made MLB history nine starts later.

Manoah has become the first MLB pitcher since at least 1901 to start his major league career with 10 straight starts with four or fewer hits allowed. He’s compiled a 4-1 record over 52.1 innings to begin his career, striking out 60 batters and issuing just 19 walks while giving up 34 hits, to the tune of a 2.58 ERA.

He’s been able to pitch at least six innings in half of his starts, recording two starts of seven innings pitched so far. His best start came in a 10-strikeout, three-hit shutout over seven innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 2.

While Manoah hasn’t started enough games or played enough games to qualify among this season’s league leaders, his ERA would sit firmly inside the MLB’s top 10 this season if he had. Of course, no one can project how he’d perform with double the starts, however. Working out of the back end of the rotation so far this season, he’s provided a jolt of youthful power to go along with star pitchers Robbie Ray and Hyun Jin Ryu.

Among the starting rotation’s pitchers, Manoah’s 2.58 ERA ranks first — albeit in less than half the innings of Ray and Ryu. Regardless, his rookie breakout is a welcomed sign for the Jays’ postseason aspirations. A stellar 1.6 WAR (wins above replacement) and 172 ERA+ (adjusted earned runs average, 100 serving as average) showing just good Manoah has been this season as a 23-year-old.

With his upper-90s fastball, mid-90s sinker, changeup and slider in a 6-foot-6, 260 pound frame, Manoah has the potential to be a very good pitcher in the MLB for the next decade.

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