SF Giants News: Sean Manaea flashes uptick in velocity in first Cactus League start

San Francisco Giants Photo Day
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The SF Giants tallied their first win of the spring thanks to a walk-off hit by Will Wilson to drive in Ford Proctor to secure a 7-6 win against the Cincinnati Reds. The win is nice but it is not necessarily important in spring training. One thing from the game stood out and it was how prepared veteran starter Sean Manaea looked in his first Cactus League appearance of the camp.

SF Giants News: Sean Manaea flashes uptick in velocity in first Cactus League start

The Giants added Manaea this winter on a two-year, $25 million deal with an opt-out after the first season. The fans have been through this before. If he performs, he will likely opt-out and sign elsewhere for a long-term deal.

Until then, the left-handed hurler appears poised for a strong season after an impressive debut in a Giants uniform:

Manaea completed two innings of work, allowing one earned run on three hits, zero walks, and two strikeouts. He was doing this while flashing a sinker that displayed a noticeable uptick in velocity. Over the years, Manaea's sinker ranged from 89.8 MPH to 92.1 MPH. Last season, it averaged 91.2 MPH, but he was sitting closer to 94 - 96 MPH according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 31-year-old spent the offseason at Driveline and the work he put in is paying immediate dividends. If this story sounds familiar, it was the same outcome that Alex Cobb realized last spring and it carried over into the season.

Traditionally, Cobb's sinker ranged from 90.8 MPH to 92.7 MPH throughout his career. However, after an offseason at Driveline, it sat comfortably at 94.8 MPH in 2022. The 11-year veteran enjoyed one of his best seasons due in part to it.

Manaea is looking to improve his performance as well. He had his worst year in his one and only season with the San Diego Padres in 2022 as he posted a 4.96 ERA in 30 appearances including 28 starts.

Throughout his seven-year career, the southpaw pitcher had established himself as an effective and durable mid-rotation arm. He posted an ERA below four in three full seasons (2016, 2018, and 2021) while making at least 25 appearances in five of six full seasons.

Given that the Giants have a high degree of injury risk in the starting rotation, they need a durable arm like Manaea. It is unknown as to what role the lefty will assume as the Giants have six starters under contract with an experienced arm in Jakob Junis in the bullpen and top prospect Kyle Harrison waiting in the wings. However, if Manaea throws like he did on Sunday, it will be tough to keep him out of the rotation.