The Oakland A’s starting rotation will need someone to step up as a steadying influence in 2021. Sean Manaea could be that pitcher.
There is no questioning the potential possessed by the Oakland A’s starting rotation. Both Jesus Luzardo and Frankie Montas have displayed flashes of being top of the rotation arms, the type of pitchers that a team dreams of building around. The A’s have the same hope for A.J. Puk, provided he can stay healthy.
Yet Montas and Luzardo have had their inconsistencies. Montas started the 2020 season on fire, but tailed off after tweaking his back. Luzardo had his moments of brilliance but would struggle in the next start. The A’s need a pitcher that can be consistent every fifth day.
That pitcher could be Sean Manaea. He also struggled with his consistency in 2020, posting a 4.50 ERA and a 1.204 WHiP, striking out 45 batters with eight walks in his 54 innings. He did find his footing over his final seven outings, with a 2.77 ERA and a 0.949 WHiP in 39 innings being closer to what the A’s had hoped for.
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Manaea has been a solid pitcher over his career. He has posted a 39-31 record along with a 3.85 ERA and a 1.196 WHiP over his 547.2 innings, striking out 447 batters with 139 walks. That overall performance would be perfect for a steady middle of the rotation innings eater, which Manaea may well be.
There is also the potential for much more. He dominated in his five September appearances in 2019 after returning from shoulder surgery, showing the potential to be a viable ace. If those first four outings of 2020 are disregarded, Manaea would be one of the better pitchers in the game.
While Manaea has that ace potential, his floor is also reasonably high. Even without reaching the heights of his brief run in 2019, or his seven starts at the end of last season, he can be that steadying influence in the A’s rotation – a pitcher the team can turn to when they need a solid outing after a rough stretch.
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Sean Manaea does not need to be an ace to be a key piece for the Oakland A’s. Even his floor as a solid middle of the rotation arm is more than enough.