Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays’ Steve Yoo, who served as a foreign scout for the LG Twins, predicted the team would win the district in 2023.

After acquiring free agent starter Chris Bassett and outfielders Kevin Kiermaier and Dolton Bashaw from the Arizona Diamondbacks to upgrade their starting rotation, outfield defense, and left field lineup, the Blue Jays were touted as the team to beat the New York Yankees. He predicted they could win the division over the Yankees.

Before the season, the favorites to win the American League East were narrowed down to the Yankees and Blue Jays. But that changed when the lid was lifted and the Tampa Bay Rays proved to be stronger than expected. Tampa Bay’s run to the top of the standings also fell far short of expectations.

At the center of Toronto’s unexpectedly bumpy ride is the seemingly endless fall of Alec Manoa, a player many thought would develop into an ace. Manoa is 25 years old. Last year, in his second year, he went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA in 196.2 innings pitched and finished third in the AL Cy Young Award. This year, experts, as well as the club, naturally expected him to continue his upward trajectory.

But he got off to a shaky start in the season opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up five runs on nine hits in 3.1 innings. In his second start, against the Kansas City Royals, he replicated his 2022 form with seven innings of one-hit, four-strikeout ball. It was his only win of the season. The Royals are underdogs. Manoa pitched seven innings of two-hit, one-strikeout ball against the rival New York Yankees in April. That was his last start.

Manoa pitched the first game of a three-game series against the defending World Series champion Houston Astros on Saturday at home at Rogers Centre after the team swept the New York Mets last weekend. He was hit as soon as he threw. For the first time since his MLB debut on May 28, 2021, he didn’t last past the first inning. He gave up six runs on seven hits and his team fell to 4-11, ending their winning streak. 1-7 on the season.

The team sent Manoa down to the Rookie level of the Florida Complex League on May 7. His demotion to the minors was announced the day before the loss to Houston. “Everything is on the table, including using the club’s option (to demote him to the minors),” Toronto manager John Schneider admitted in a postgame interview.

It’s very rare in MLB history for an ace to be demoted to the minors the following year after finishing third in the Cy Young Award the year before. It’s an extraordinary move for the club. There’s no reason to keep him on the active roster, let alone in the starting rotation, when he’s giving up early runs in every start. Manoa was sent down to the minors and triple-right-hander Bowden Francis was promoted.

Manoa’s downward spiral is evident in his record. Comparing his 13-game start last year to this year is a world apart. In 13 games 스포츠토토, he pitched 81 innings in 2022 and 58 in 2013, with a 2.00-6.36 ERA, a 73/15-48/42 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a 0.207-0.289 batting average, and a 0.563-0.893 opponent OPS. His overall ERA went up by 3.22, from 2.24 to 6.36. As for home runs, he allowed 16 in 196.2 innings last year and 11 in just 58 innings this year.

MLB Network pitching analyst Al Reiter characterized Manoa’s struggles after the loss to Houston as “a triple whammy: mechanically, physically, and mentally.” Reiter focused on his strikeout and walk rates. Strikeouts dropped from 22.9 percent last year to 17.6 percent on an innings per nine basis. Walks allowed increased from 6.5% to 15.0%.

The AL East is one of MLB’s most elite divisions, with all five teams having a winning percentage of 5 or better as of July 7. It’s a division where it’s not so much about which teams will make the postseason as who will miss out. It will be interesting to see if Manoa, who is close friends with Ryu, can return to the big leagues and help the Toronto mound.

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