Padres need Manaea to step up in return to rotation

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After a skipped start, San Diego Padres left-handed starter Sean Manaea will make his return to the rotation Thursday in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.

Manaea struggled in his eight starts after the all-star break, posting an 8.36 ERA over 37.2 innings while allowing 12 home runs. That stretch also includes a seven-inning start where Manaea allowed just one run in a win over the Washington Nationals.

Needless to say, Padres manager Bob Melvin‘s decision to temporarily remove Manaea from the rotation made sense. Manaea allowed eight earned runs in his last start on September 3, and after 11 days off, the Padres need Manaea to return to his old form.

What was Manaea’s old form, you may be asking? There are several forms we can point towards.

First Half 2022 Sean Manaea

In Manaea’s first 14 starts with the Padres – which is more than half of them, by the way – he struck out 89 batters in 85 innings while posting a 3.92 ERA, 3.80 FIP, and 1.183 WHIP.

At that point in time, many considered the Padres to boast one of the best rotations in baseball. Now, nobody thinks that, but if Manaea pitches well in his final handful of starts, it might rejoin the conversation.

Oakland A’s Sean Manaea

Prior to being traded to the Padres during spring training this year, Manaea pitched in the bigs exclusively for the Oakland A’s.

His previous success in the green and gold is nothing to scoff at. Over six seasons and 128 starts – and one relief appearance – Manaea logged 727 innings in which he posted a 3.86 ERA, 3.96 FIP, and 1.20 WHIP.

Those solid numbers pale in comparison to the ones he is putting up in San Diego, and that’s what makes his season underwhelming. Melvin, who also managed Manaea in Oakland, is surely hoping that Manaea’s time out of the rotation can bring him back to form.

September Manaea

With Manaea pitching for Oakland, an American League team, it is reasonable to expect that many Padres fans did not pay much attention to Manaea before he joined the Padres. One thing some may not know about the 6-foot-5-inch lefty is he thrived in September with the A’s.

With Oakland in September, Manaea pitched 130 innings while posting an impressive 2.56 ERA, the lowest of any month. Like his rough 2022 August(7.88 ERA), Manaea’s worst career month is also August.

Bouncing back after rough Augusts became common in Oakland. The Padres are hoping that trend continues.

Not to mention, the Padres’ rotation – and bullpen, too – needs a strong start out of Manaea. In the nine games, while the Padres operated with a four-man rotation, the starters pitched 47 innings with a 6.12 ERA. This stretch also includes Yu Darvish‘s two starts in which he allowed three runs over 14 innings, which is pulling that ERA way down.

Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, and Joe Musgrove will get an extra day of rest with Manaea re-entering the rotation, which may help that trio get back to form as well.

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Manaea will take the bump in Chase Field, a place where he was successful in the first half of the season. His first start in the brown and gold came in Arizona when he threw seven no-hit innings before leaving the ballgame. His second start began with six scoreless innings before Melvin let him pitch the seventh inning. The first three batters Manaea faced that inning reached and later scored, which chased Manaea from the game after 112 pitches.

It’s a small sample size of just 13 innings, but Chase Field against the Diamondbacks – who are losers in six of their last eight games – might be the best spot for Manaea to regain form for the Padres.

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