alek manoah florida complex league yankees
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is a humbling game. Right when you think you’re at the top, something happens to bring you back down a peg. After making comments last winter about Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole being “the biggest cheater in baseball history”, that’s happened to Alek Manoah.

The Blue Jays’ right-hander had a terrific 2022 campaign. He not only earned a trip to the All-Star Game, but he finished third in AL Cy Young voting. In 196.2 innings (31 starts), Manoah went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 180 strikeouts. Once the offseason hit, he decided to follow in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s footsteps and talk a little smack about the Yankees.

Really? Using Spider Tack makes Cole the worst cheater in baseball history?

Seems like a little much, but whatever. It just stokes the rivalry between New York and Toronto a little more, which is a good thing. When asked about his comments in April, Manoah didn’t take them back. Instead, he doubled down on it by saying he didn’t regret it one bit.

Granted, he was probably feeling too amped up for any regret in the immediate aftermath of his best start so far this season. He was fresh off shutting out the Yankees over seven innings on April 22nd when responding to those initial comments. Manoah has had one other seven-inning shutout performance this year, but the rest has been mostly ugly. That includes a four-inning outing against the Yankees on May 15th in Toronto, where he allowed five runs on six hits and seven (!) walks.

Manoah took his turn through the rotation four more times since that appearance. After allowing six runs on seven hits in just one-third of an inning against the Houston Astros, the Blue Jays optioned him to the minors. And, more specifically, the Florida Complex League (that’s Rookie ball):

He’s not actually going to get into games against Rookie League hitters. This is an opportunity for Manoah to be at the Blue Jays’ complex and use all of Toronto’s resources at his disposal to get back on track:

After receiving MVP votes last season, Manoah is 1-7 with a 6.36 ERA and 1.90 WHIP through 58 innings. That performance has been worth -1.2 bWAR so far.

Meanwhile, Gerrit Cole is on the other end of the spectrum. The right-hander is 7-0 with a 2.82 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 84 strikeouts in 79.2 innings. His performance has been worth 2.5 fWAR. It doesn’t look like these two will be AL All-Star teammates again this year like they were in 2022 at Dodger Stadium.

There’s nothing wrong with trash talk. Everyone does it and it happens every night across baseball. But when it’s in such a public manner like this, things look terrible when you’re not able to back it up. Here’s to hoping Manoah figures things out, but either way, the Baseball Gods have sent a clear message.

You can reach Matt Musico at You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.