It's been quite the rollercoaster of a career thus far for Detroit Tigers' starting pitcher Matt Manning. He's dealt wth pretty much everything you can think of, from COVID, to inconsistency, to a boatload of injuries. The latest of which was yet another fractured foot after taking yet another comebacker off his foot. The injury will end his 2023 season.
It's some horrifically bad luck for Manning. The same exact thing happened to him in mid-April in his second start of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays. Now five months later, it happens again. It has to be incredibly frustrating for Manning.
But alas, his season is over. He finishes the season with a 3.58 ERA in 78 innings pitched. He at least ends the season pitching well. However, if you look at some of the underlying metrics, they paint a bit of a different story.
He had a FIP of 4.81 and an expected ERA of 5.39. That would suggest he was getting quite lucky. What mostly explains this is the lack of swing-and-miss he was inducing.
Manning struck out 5.77 batters per nine innings this season. That's not good at all. The walk rate was at a modest 2.42 BB/9, so he had no problem throwing strikes. But he just could not miss any bats.
His CSW% — called strikes + whiff percentage — was 26.8%, which is also quite low. Combine this, with the fact that he hasn't been able to stay healthy, and we may need to have a discussion.
Manning has only pitched 226.1 innings in two and a half seasons with the Tigers. That's only about a season and a half worth of innings. Obviously some of it has been bad luck, but the injuries have been a huge issue for him.
The inconsistency has been another issue. He can't seem to string together more than three or four good starts at a time. Some of it is poor command, but other times it's his refusal to throw his fastball more.
The fastball is by far his best pitch. Because of his 6-foot-6 frame, he creates a ton of extension, which makes his fastball harder to pick up, despite the dip in velocity over the years. His secondary stuff has improved, but the fastball is still far and away his best pitch.
He could be better if he wasn't so stubborn, so some of it is his own doing. There's just been so much inconsistency for a pitcher that has a lot of potential.
This all leads to one big question. Is it time for the Detroit Tigers to move on from Matt Manning?
It's definitely worth considering. The Tigers need bats, and there aren't a whole lot of options in free agency this offseason. Scott Harris is going to have to get creative. That means trading from his surplus of starting pitchers to acquire a bat.
Manning still has a year before arbitration and is not a free agent until after the 2027 season. He has four more years of team control remaining, While his performance has been up-and-down, there isn't anything much more valuable in trade talks than starting pitchers with control.
The Tigers could get a nice return for Manning. Considering his injury history and lack of consistency, it may be time to move on from the 25-year-old.