The Oakland A’s are expected to activate pitcher Sean Manaea from the injured list on Sunday, first reported by Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. The left-hander is listed on MLB’s official website as the A’s starter for Sunday in New York against the Yankees.
A corresponding move will need to be made to add Manaea to the 40-man roster. However, space on the 25-man won’t be an issue, because Sunday is the first day of September and so rosters are expanding.
UPDATE: The move is now official and Manaea is back on the roster, the team announced. The 40-man cuts turned out to be pitcher Tanner Anderson and infielder Corban Joseph, who were both designated for assignment to make room for Manaea and catcher prospect Sean Murphy.
We last saw Manaea almost exactly a year ago, in late August of 2018. He was in the midst of a strong season at the top of the A’s rotation but saw it end early due to shoulder surgery, which you can read more about here. He returned to the mound in July for a minor league rehab assignment, and despite a couple brief setbacks he eventually began dominating the Triple-A competition:
Manaea, AAA: 3.21 ERA, 28 ip, 43 Ks, 6 BB, 5 HR, 3.81 FIP
Those 43 strikeouts came against 105 batters, for a whopping 41% rate. His numbers are even better if you eliminate his first Las Vegas start and just look at his four most recent games (1.90 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 42% Ks, 2 HR).
As for how well that success will translate to his return to MLB, one factor could be what kind of velocity he shows. In his second-to-last start for Vegas, he’d worked up to the 88-92 mph range, reports Athletics Farm. That would put him around where he was when we last saw him in the majors — when he threw his no-hitter in April 2018, Statcast says his fastball averaged 91 and topped at 92.5, and for the 2018 season overall he averaged 90.4 mph. He’d been even higher in previous years (91.7 in 2017, and 92.9 in 2016), but he still got results last summer at the lower radar readings:
Manaea, 2018: 3.59 ERA, 160⅔ ip, 108 Ks, 32 BB, 21 HR, 4.26 FIP
The A’s already have five starters on their staff, all of whom are pitching well right now, but they might consider a six-man rotation, reports Slusser. The team plays 16 games in 16 days beginning on Tuesday, and they’ve got 26 total regular season games remaining. Manaea was developing into one of the club’s biggest stars when he went down last year, so getting him back could be a huge boost.
Oakland is expected to make a few other additions to their expanded roster on Sunday. Fellow starter Paul Blackburn and infielder Franklin Barreto will be recalled, and top catching prospect Sean Murphy will be added to the 40-man roster and called up, reports Slusser. That might not be the end of the promotions, though, as Slusser adds that the call-ups are “likely to come in waves, with Las Vegas pointed toward playoffs.”
Welcome back, Sean!