Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Manning made his MLB debut on June 17. The right-hander pitched five innings, allowing two runs and striking out three. While he took the loss, he gives the Tiger fans hope that he, along with the other young Tiger pitchers, can compete sooner rather than later.
Arrival to the Tigers
Manning’s arrival to the Tigers began when they selected him with the ninth overall selection in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft. Instead of choosing college, Manning took the signing bonus offered and was assigned to the Gulf Coast Tigers, their Rookie League team. He had a 0-2 record with a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts. Though he was limited to pitching no more than three innings per start, he had 46 strikeouts and hitters only had a .237 average against him.
Overall, in the Minors
Looking at his overall minor league showcase through 2021, Manning had 23 wins with a 3.49 ERA in 77 games started. His best season was 2019 in which he won 11 games with AA Erie. He was the organization’s minor league player of the year for 2019. He struck out 148 batters in 133 2/3 innings with a 2.56 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and showcased his fastball and curveball.
Tigers top Pitching Prospect
Manning has been a Tigers top-three pitching prospect since 2016. They also wanted to bring him along slowly, letting him gain as much pro experience as he could get. He is a tall, long, and athletic pitcher with a complete delivery. His fastball stays in the 96-98 MPH range and that will be his top pitch.
The second pitch you will see on a regular basis is his curveball. The pitch itself is more of a “power curve” that consistently clocks in around 80-82 mph. Manning’s six-foot, six-inch frame allows him to get an exceptionally favorable angle on that pitch. His minor league coaches mentioned that his curveball creates a tilt with a unique spin range. He is also working on a changeup. His pitching coaches have indicated that he has started to get more comfortable with it. If he can show that he can get that pitch down in the zone, then he can certainly have a lethal three-pitch mix in his arsenal.
Off to a Bad Start
Before the Tigers’ Matt Manning made his debut, the 2021 season did not start well for him. He was sent to AAA Toledo during Spring Training after struggling in camp. They believe a lot of that can be contributed to the pandemic. The lack of pitching in professional games for a young pitcher can have an effect on arm readiness. However, Manning’s last start might be an indication that he is getting his form and confidence back. His last Triple-A start was his best to date. He allowed only two runs over six innings, with eight strikeouts.
Call-up in the Works
The Tigers’ starting pitching’s overall ERA was over 4.80 per start, and Manager A J Hinch indicated that some changes to their starting staff were coming. Then the Tigers had injuries to both Matthew Boyd and Alex Lange. Boyd would need time on the IL with left arm soreness; Lange has a shoulder injury that put him on the IL as well.
Finally, with Spencer Turnbull out with a forearm strain and Rony Garcia being moved to the 60-day IL after knee surgery, the Tigers were left with only three healthy starting pitchers. Manning got the call and arrived on June 15. He immediately began working with pitching coach Chris Fetter to get ready for his MLB debut.
Visions for the Future
Even before Matt Manning made his MLB debut, the Tigers certainly had visions of their future having four very stable starters in Manning, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Turnbull. They will take their lumps, but if Hinch and pitching coach Fetter can keep the pitchers’ confidence up, the fans will see how much the Tigers have invested in their young pitching staff.
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