Alek Manoah making history as Blue Jays barge into playoff spot
After Monday’s 8-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays are now — almost inexplicably — holding a wild card spot, with pitcher Alek Manoah making franchise history along the way.
The 23-year-old pitched eight scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts against the top-seeded Rays on Monday. This makes him the youngest pitcher in Blue Jays history to accomplish this, and only the sixth pitcher to have this type of game with the franchise.
The only other Jays pitchers who have managed to throw at least eight scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts or more and no walks were Marco Estrada, Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, Roger Clemens, and Tom Candiotti.
Manoah is also the fastest pitcher in Blue Jays history to reach the 100-strikeout mark to begin his career. Behind him sits Juan Guzman and Drew Hutchison who got 100 strikeouts in 20 games, and Trent Thornton who did so in 21 games.
At 17 games, Alek Manoah is the fastest pitcher in #WeAreBlueJays history to begin his MLB career with 100 strikeouts pic.twitter.com/hIBz1ZpCuG
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) September 14, 2021
Manoah, who was drafted 11th overall in 2019 by the Jays, has posted a 6-2 record with a 3.39 ERA in his first big-league season.
Before the rookie was called up in June, the Jays rotation had a 4.32 ERA. With Manoah in the mix, that number dropped to 3.83. He quickly became the piece that started stabilizing the team’s rotation and paving the way for their comeback, alongside Robbie Ray who is 11-5 this season with a 2.69 ERA and a league-leading 220 strikeouts.
The Jays are now 15-2 in their last 17 games and 12-1 in the month of September. Their winning run has bumped them up to second in the AL East and into the American League's top wild card spot as of this writing. The bats have been spectacular, but Manoah and his "big cojones" are also a major reason why this team is where it's at.
More from Yahoo Sports