SF Giants starter Sean Manaea departed Saturday's game in Mexico City against the San Diego Padres after yielding four earned runs across two innings. The lefty pitcher allowed his sixth home run of the season, which continues a trend that has spanned multiple years.
SF Giants starter Sean Manaea continues to be plagued by the long ball
It bears mentioning that the environment in Mexico City definitely favored the hitter due to the high altitude and extremely quick infield grass. It was like a combination of playing a game at Coors Field's thin air with the slick grass of the Cactus League. Pitchers are not set up for success in that environment.
It did not necessarily feel like a real baseball game as pitchers on both sides struggled to keep the ball in the park. Giants pitchers yielded six home runs on Saturday compared to five allowed by the Padres pitching staff.
The long ball has been an early narrative for the Giants on both sides of the ball. Giants hitters have recorded 43 home runs on the year, which is the third-best mark in baseball. However, in the spirit of symmetry, Giants pitchers have registered a 1.55 HR/9 rate, which is the third-worst mark in baseball.
It was only one game for the Giants, but the pitching staff's long ball tendencies have been an unpleasant surprise of this season. That said, it has been less surprising for Manaea.
When the Giants signed the eight-year veteran to a two-year, $25 million pact, he was coming off of his worst season yet. Manaea registered a 4.96 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, and a 3.12 SO/W ratio in 30 outings last year.
Bad seasons happen, but he still recorded a fair number of strikeouts while limiting walks allowed, so there were some redeeming qualities. What was concerning was the fact that Manaea tallied a 1.71 HR/9 ratio, which was the worst mark among pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched in 2022.
Sure, if that was an outlier season, it would be easy to write off. However, this is a trend that spans multiple seasons. Since the start of 2020, Manaea has recorded a 1.47 HR/9 rate, which is the fifth-worst figure in baseball with a minimum of 400 innings pitched.
A couple of the names in front of him include Patrick Corbin (1.71 HR/9) and Jordan Lyles (1.69 HR/9). This is not the type of neighborhood to buy real estate.
Not surprisingly, the home run woes have continued in 2023. Manaea has allowed six home runs in 18.1 frames in 2023 (2.9 HR/9). Usually, home run rates go on one direction as a player ages and it is hard to ignore that these numbers have only increased over the past couple of seasons with Manaea.
The veteran pitcher came into camp with a couple extra ticks on his sinker velocity, but has that come at the expense of his control? Manaea has not been sharp in the early going and that is more surprising than the home run numbers.
The southpaw has tallied more than four innings in an outing just once in six appearances this season. The short outings have been a product of ineffectiveness and high pitch counts. For someone who has generally filled up the strike zone, Manaea's first impression with the Giants has been unfavorable.
He is one month into a two-year deal that includes an opt-out after the first season. The betting odds of him opting out are pretty low at the moment. It could be a bumpy ride if Manaea continues to struggle to keep the ball in the yard as he has done to start the year.