The Oakland A’s got some encouraging news this week for their thin starting rotation, as Sean Manaea officially began a minor league rehab assignment. The left-hander pitched on Monday for the High-A Stockton Ports.
We last saw Manaea in the majors in August of 2018, and then the next month he had surgery on his shoulder. He appeared ready for a rehab assignment toward the end of June, but some soreness in his oblique set him back for an extra couple weeks.
With that latest roadblock out of the way, Manaea finally pitched in a real game. Unfortunately the results weren’t great, but it’s crucial to remember that the stats are not the important part here. For now what matters is that he was able to pitch at all, after a long injury layoff.
Manaea, 7/8 A+: 2⅓ ip, 6 runs (4 ER), 2 Ks, 0 BB, 7 hits
Even amid those shaky stats, the things that interest me the most are the zero walks and zero homers. At least he’s around the strike zone (32-of-43 pitches for strikes), and those strikes aren’t getting blasted out of the park, even if a bunch of them went for hits.
In the 1st inning Manaea got knocked around but his defense helped him, once when his catcher caught a basestealer and then again with a 7-2-4 putout to nab a runner trying to advance on a throw to the plate. But then in the 2nd inning, his third baseman made errors on two plays, turning a potential 1-2-3 inning into a rally and a pair of unearned runs. In the 3rd he allowed singles to two of the first three batters before exiting, and then watched the next pitcher let both inherited runners score.
In terms of stuff, Manaea’s fastball sat at 89-90 mph, reports Stockton broadcaster Zack Bayrouty. That’s lower than you’d hope for from him, but again, this was his first game back so let’s wait and see how his velocity looks in his next few outings.
For now the A’s rotation features Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, Chris Bassitt, Daniel Mengden, and either Tanner Anderson or Paul Blackburn. Unfortunately top prospect Jesus Luzardo won’t be arriving in July as hoped, after straining his lat muscle, but he’s not yet ruled out of debuting later this season. There are no more proven depth options beyond that list, especially with budding ace Frankie Montas suspended for effectively the rest of the season for a PED violation.
Cotton resumes rehab
More good news! Manaea isn’t the only injured arm rehabbing in Stockton this week. On Tuesday, Jharel Cotton will pitch for the Ports, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle, though he’s still more likely ticketed for the bullpen if/when he gets back to the majors this season. The right-hander made three rehab appearances for Stockton in May, but had that comeback interrupted by hamstring surgery in early June. Just a month later, he’s getting back in action.