Detroit Tigers: Do not bail on prospect pitcher Matt Manning yet

(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Tigers 2021 season is winding down. The team has less than ten games to go on the schedule, and they are all but done. The season has been enjoyable, but it was good to see some of the team’s younger players getting their chances.

One of the Detroit Tigers players who finally got his call in 2021 was Matt Manning. The 6-foot-6, 195-pound starting pitcher, was called up back in June and made sixteen starts for the team. While he may not have burst onto the scene, he was still able to get his feet wet and respond to some adversity.

While it seems like some Tigers fans like to jump the gun and assume he needs to be buried back in Triple-A, that may not be the case. The Tigers season is over; he will get the offseason to reset and can hit the ground running in 2022.

Bailing on Manning already is not the right move. While yes, his velocity was down in 2020, and it caused him to take a few steps back in the minors going into 2021 before reaching the big leagues, he was able to figure things out. There’s still projectability and hope for Manning.

It is too early to bail on Detroit Tigers prospect Matt Manning.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, Manning’s big league debut was not the smoothest, but he did start to iron things out over time. Manning was 4-6 over his 16 starts, where he accumulated 77 innings pitched.

The former 2016 first-round draft choice out of high school pitched to a 5.73 ERA, a 1.52 ERA, and did not have any standout numbers when it comes to traditional stats. However, when it comes to what you see with your eyes as a scout, a few things stood out.

Manning was able to get better movement on his slider, which is something that he can continue to finetune and work on under the direction of Chris Fetter. While he may not be spinning it like Jackson Jobe with a 3,000 RPM slider, he has made some positive changes to the slider that make it a better pitch.

There’s still work to be done on his pitch-mix that is going to come as he finds his footing in the big leagues. But the 6-foot-6 righty is coming from a high attack angle, and it was interesting to see his Baseball Savant profile.

His fastball heatmap shows that implies that he tends to live middle-out on the glove side around the middle third of the zone. Looking at the “sinker” heatmap, which I believe is more of a two-seam, he lives on the inner third of the plate arm-side and tends to work a little more up with it.

While I’m no pitching coach and certainly am not a big-league guru, I think it would be fun to see how the four-seam fastball plays at the top of the zone. There’s a thought that high-spin and high velocity at the top of the zone will play well, and many guys have success with it.

Letting the big and tall right-hander try to gas up some hitters at the top of the zone and working to have him own the upper half of the zone with the fastball should allow for more success. That being said, 2021 may not have been his year, but going into 2022, he has adjustments he can make and hopefully bounce back strong.

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So, do not bail on Manning yet, there’s a long way to go, and in year two, he will bounce back quite well!