Detroit Tigers: Matt Manning Very Impressive During MLB Debut

Detroit Tigers pitching prospect dazzles in his Major League baseball debut Thursday night in Anaheim. The organization needed Matt Manning to make a spot start, and the lanky right-hander did not disappoint.

Manning certainly did not earn the call-up with how he’s pitched this season in Triple-A Toledo with the Mud Hens. The 23-year old has struggled mightily in 2021 since being promoted from Double-A Erie, where he excelled pre-COVID.

In 2021 down on the farm, Manning had posted an earned run average (ERA) of 8.07, to go with an extremely elevated WHIP of 1.546. Wins and losses do not define a starting pitcher as it once did, but Manning provided the Mud Hens with a 1-3 record over seven starts before the promotion. In 32.1 innings of work in Toledo, Manning recorded 36 strikeouts, walked 10, and allowed a whopping 11 home runs.

Matt Manning’s promotion to the Detroit Tigers seemed destined to fail.

Not only making his MLB debut but against Shohei Ohtani? That’s enough to force butterflies into the gut of a veteran let alone a rookie.

I felt Manning needed more time in Triple-A before earning an opportunity in Detroit. Maybe I was wrong? Manning certainly earned himself a second turn in the starting rotation.

When you compare how Manning has performed in Toledo this season compared to how well he pitched in Erie back in 2019, you can justify being a bit concerned with his future.

Manning went 11-5 with a 2.56 ERA, striking out 148 hitters in 133.2 innings of work with Erie. And then COVID-19 hit. Not overlooking the negative health and financial ramifications the virus has had on families worldwide, but when it comes to sports, the prospects developing suffered the most.

For the majority of prospects, 2020 was a wasted season.

This also could contribute to Manning’s slow start pitching a level above where he’d pitched two seasons prior. On top of that, Manning also suffered a forearm strain at the alternate training site and needed to stop pitching far earlier than normal if he would have remained healthy.

Things could have gone really bad for Manning and the Detroit Tigers.

Instead, the right-hander provided us with a glimpse of the future. For the first of hopefully hundreds of times, Detroit Tigers fans witnessed top pitching prospects Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning pitch in succession.

The Los Angeles Angels, minus star outfielder Mike Trout won the game 7-5 on the heels of Taylor Ward’s grand slam, but Manning was very impressive in his debut.

All things considered, Manning pitched exceptionally well. I’d be lying if I told you I thought Manning would be able to cruise through five innings of work nearly unscathed Thursday, understanding how poorly he’s pitched a level lower.

Manning lived and died with his mid-90s fastball, and will need to mix in his secondary pitches far more often when he makes his second start. It’s not uncommon to see a starting pitcher making their debut throw a plethora of fastballs due to the uncontrollable adrenaline flowing through their body. When a kid is amped up they struggle to control their secondary pitches and often become erratic. When that happens the catcher usually puts down a heavy dose of the ole number one.

The youngster allowed just two runs on four hits through five innings of work. If it weren’t for some spotty defense Manning may have allowed just one run. Akil Baddoo overthrew a cutoff man and Daz Cameron stopped charging a single hit to centerfield. Each play allowed a baserunner to advance an extra base. Those are the type of things that losing teams continue to do. I can guarantee you that both items were addressed by manager A.J. Hinch following the game.

The Tigers needed a starter after losing the services of Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, and Julio Teheran. I’m excited to see the trio of youthful starters once again in succession the next time through the rotation.

Detroit Tigers Odds

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About the Author

Bob Heyrman

Bob's writing is comparable to the third starter in a rotation. Sometimes he throws junk that finds the barrel of the bat and gets smacked over the fence, but the odd time he can toss a complete game shutout. Bob is an avid lifelong Detroit sports fan. Bob loves the city and can often be found downtown taking in a sporting event or a cold beverage at a local watering hole.