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Sean Manaea named AL Pitcher of the Month

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The Oakland A’s lefty was the league’s best hurler in April 2018.

The King dons his Dubble Bubble crown.
Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea was named the American League Pitcher of the Month on Wednesday, the team announced. In five starts this April he allowed just four earned runs in 36 innings, good for a 1.00 ERA, and along the way he threw MLB’s first no-hitter of 2018.

Manaea, April 2018: 1.00 ERA, 36 ip, 30 Ks, 7 BB, 3 HR, 16 hits, 3.25 FIP

Of course, his first start of the year came on March 30, so the numbers above aren’t quite his full-season stats. But he was also lights-out in that first game, and his overall 1.03 ERA leads all qualified AL starters.

Here’s a summary of his game log for the month:

  • April 4: Dominated Rangers for 8 innings (1 ER, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 3 hits)
  • April 10: Only OK against Dodgers (5 ip, 2 ER, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HR)
  • April 15: Dominated Mariners for 7 innings (1 ER, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 2 hits)
  • April 21: No-hitter against MLB-best Red Sox (9 ip, 10 Ks, 2 BB)
  • April 27: Dominated Astros for 7 innings (0 ER, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 4 hits)

Between those last three outings, Manaea put together 14 consecutive hitless innings to set an Oakland team record. In those games he out-dueled superstars Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, and Dallas Keuchel, each of whom had their own good-to-great lineups behind them. Felix and Keuchel have Cy Youngs on their resumes and Sale was the runner-up last year. Manaea also hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 18 full innings, a streak which is still ongoing.

Manaea’s start in March came against the Angels, whom he dominated despite the A’s ultimately losing the game. That means that, before even taking the mound in May, he’s faced all four AL West division rivals and utterly shut down all of them without fail. In 29⅓ innings in those four games he allowed only three earned runs, and that doesn’t include his no-hitter against the AL East. Overall, he’s only allowed as many as two runs in a game once, against the defending NL champion Dodgers.

The A’s are no strangers to Pitcher of the Month awards, but it’s still an amazing and special feat every time. Here’s a full history (or Wiki version):

  • Rick Langford, August 1979
  • Matt Keough, April 1981
  • Jay Howell, June 1985
  • Steve Ontiveros, June 1987
  • Dave Stewart, April 1988
  • Mike Moore, July 1989
  • Dave Stewart, April 1990
  • Dave Stewart, September 1990
  • Tim Hudson, September 2000
  • Mark Mulder, July 2001
  • Barry Zito, August 2001
  • Barry Zito, September 2001
  • Mark Mulder, June 2002
  • Cory Lidle, August 2002
  • Mark Mulder, June 2004
  • Barry Zito, July 2005
  • Esteban Loaiza, August 2006
  • Dan Haren, May 2007
  • Bartolo Colon, June 2013
  • Sonny Gray, April 2014
  • Sonny Gray, July 2014
  • Scott Kazmir, July 2015*
  • Rich Hill, May 2016
  • Sean Manaea, April 2018

* Kazmir was traded mid-month and split his time between the A’s and Astros

If you thought that was a fun list of names, then I encourage you to click through and see the full rundown with all the winners over time. Bring a snack though, because you’re gonna get sucked in for a while.

The emergence of Manaea has been a talking point all year, and hopefully that will continue. He arrived as a blue-chip trade acquisition, immediately won a Double-A championship and ranked as arguably the team’s top prospect, and now he appears to be panning out as a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter. It’s still early in the season but his results so far are impossible to ignore, and the eyeball test has been equally impressive even as his once mid-90s velocity has settled into the low-90s.

The A’s rotation is still shaky overall, and though they’ve held their own so far the long-term depth is a question mark. They’re already turning to minor league free agent Brett Anderson for Wednesday’s start, and May is only just beginning. But it’s looking more and more like they finally have an ace at the top of the pack — Manaea was the league’s best pitcher in April, and he got there by beating a bunch of other team’s aces.

Congrats to Sean, the Throwin’ Samoan, the one true Baby Giraffe, on an excellent and well-deserved achievement!