Former top prospect hoping to lock down a spot in Detroit Tigers 2024 rotation

The Detroit Tigers are working through Spring Training. Former top prospect Matt Manning is hoping that he can lock down a starting rotation spot ahead of the 2024 season.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matt Manning (25) throws a pitch during 2024 MLB Spring Training.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matt Manning (25) throws a pitch during 2024 MLB Spring Training. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers selected Matt Manning in the 2016 MLB Draft, using the ninth overall pick to select the right-hander. Manning was a high school pitching prospect from California whom the Tigers opted to bring in and invest in the long term. Five years later, Manning made his debut in the big leagues with the Tigers organization.

The Detroit Tigers have banked on Manning to be something special. He's shown signs of that impressive profile that was projected upon him during his prep years. Manning has a 6-foot-6, 195-pound frame with a ton of length throughout. He's taken strides in his development over the years and started to establish a big-league track record.

When it comes to the Tigers in 2024, Manning is still around, but things look a bit different from when he was a heralded prospect within the organization. Detroit has a pretty packed rotation looking at things heading into 2024. As MCB contributor Tony Blackstock recently discussed, the rotation will take shape this spring.

But, with some of the names Blackstock mentioned and the rotation picture, it seems like Manning will find a way to pick up a backend rotation spot. He came to Spring Training looking to lock down a rotation spot and prove he could be a big-league starter over the summer of 2024.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Manning aiming to lock down a rotation spot.

For Manning, 2024 could be an ample opportunity to prove things. After all, the once top prospect has struggled to live up to some of the expectations in the past. But injuries have been a big issue for Manning. There have been issues with his back, arm, and shoulder in the past, though he's also taken some comebackers, including one off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton that ended his season.

He has not been the luckiest pitcher when it comes to injuries, and he has battled adversity in due time. Over three seasons in the big leagues, Manning has only accumulated 226.1 innings pitched, over 45 career starts for the Tigers.

In his three years in the big leagues, he has yet to pitch in more than 100.0 innings on a season total and has only made a career-high of 18 starts for the Tigers. Indeed, there's room to improve, showing that he can make it through a season with health while also being able to flash that stuff that he's shown signs of.

Manning has a career 4.37 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, 73 career walks, and just 155 strikeouts. Being a bat-misser has not really been in the cards at the big league levels. He's one of those players who has shown flashes of being really good & at other times, the wheels have fallen off.

I have no doubts that Manning could be a backend starter in the rotation. But, given the team's starter landscape, I would rather see Casey Mize and Reese Olson round out the last two rotation spots. With Mize on a slower progression, he might be the odd man out—but not everyone's ready to have that conversation anyway.