Alek Manoah and his heaters burned the pitcher’s name into the WVU baseball record books in 2019. Just two years later, he’s doing the same thing in the big leagues for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The former Mountaineer ace started his 13th game for the Blue Jays on Monday against the Chicago White Sox, fanning five batters in 6.0 innings and allowing one run on five hits. Those five strikeouts bring his total up to 78 for his major league career, which is the most for a Blue Jay through his first 13 appearances.
He’s been keeping this record pace throughout the season, even breaking this particular strikeout total record just 11 games into his career — but that’s just where Manoah’s records begin. In July after a start against the Rays, Manoah became the youngest Blue Jay to strike out 10 batters and toss seven or more scoreless innings in a single game. Also in that game, which saw Manoah toss a no-hitter though the fifth inning, he struck out seven consecutive batters — another Jays record.
If the accolades of his young career haven’t already proven it, Manoah has become a valuable piece to the Blue Jays’ starting rotation. His 5-2 record leads the team in win-loss percentage (71.4 percent), while he maintains the second-lowest ERA on the squad at 3.18.
According to MLB StatCast, Manoah has attained this with a four-pitch arsenal that consists of a 4-seam fastball that averages 93.8 miles per hour, a sinker that goes 92.9 and drops 22.4 inches, a slider that goes down 41 inches and a changeup that slows down to 87.2 miles per hour. This has helped him become one of the hardest pitchers to hit in baseball, as he sits in the 90th percentile in both average exit velocity and hard hit percentage, as well as the 77th percentile in whiff percentage.
Before starting his career in the pros, Manoah etched his name into Mountaineer baseball history as he led WVU to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2019. That year, he also set the program’s season record for strikeouts with 144 — smashing John Radosevich’s mark of 123 from 1964.