How Sean Manaea can find success in the 2024 rotation by changing approach

New York Mets Workout
New York Mets Workout / Rich Storry/GettyImages

The New York Mets beefed up the starting rotation for the 2024 season, adding reinforcements that are somewhat a gamble but projectable. The anticipated rotation leads with the ace of the staff, Kodai Senga, filling out with possibly Adrian Houser, Jose Quintana, and Luis Severino. One of the key components and focuses of this staff is left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea.

After a few rocky years in the National League, Manaea decided in January to take his talents to Queens, New York, and turn the page in a Mets uniform. By turning the page, the referral spotlights a struggling 4.44 ERA and .538 win-loss percentage in 2023; in 2022 he posted a 4.96 ERA. Needless to say, his worst years were in the National League with the Padres and the Giants. Manaea now gets another shot at league redemption in the National League East. With a few focuses on pitch-ability and approach, Manaea can redirect his results to a victorious path.

Mets LHP Sean Manaea Overview

Let’s get to know Manaea a little bit. He stands 6’5” at a powerful 245 lbs. He towers off the bump and has a very calculated delivery. His overhead wind-up is fluid with tempo and explodes heavily on his finish, driving power down the mound with the ball leaving his hand.

Statistics-wise, Manaea’s final numbers were not all that great with regard to his win-loss percentages and ERA. However, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was 128 strikeouts and 42 walks. There is no doubt that Manaea is a gamble with his year-end record, however, critics fail to see the pitch-ability he contains and the versatility he offers. The lefty toys hitters with five options on his pitch pallet and has an IQ to complement the selections. Where can Manaea improve his outings? Simply by understanding his pitch usage.

Mets: Understanding Manaea’s pitch profile and how he can better execute in his outings

Some upgrades and notables for Manaea heading into the 2024 season; he’s added 2mph to his four-seam fastball, now up to 93.6 mph rather than the struggling 91 mph. On the gun, he was up to a max of 94 mph; this was due to the assistance of the driveline development program. Manaea gets away with lesser velocity due to the influx and effectiveness of his off-speed and breaking pitches; originally with four options, Manaea tacked one more to assist in touch spots.

From the naked eye test, Manaea has shown more command of his fastball and control of his overall pitches in 2023. He’s able to throw strikes and pound the zone, however, one of the issues may involve staying in the zone too often, especially in the danger zone. His visual pitch charts show the spread of fastballs spotted up high in the zone towards a good launch angle for hitters.

The square is flooded with red representing his four-seam fastball. The fastball is represented at 56.4% usage in 2023. Of the 14 home runs allowed by Manaea last year, eight of them were off the fastball. The put-away percentage on his fastball was not the lowest but also was not the highest; the percentage sat at 18.9% which is the second highest of five options.

Manaea can find his success by spotting up the fastball and living low away from the zone. His 2023 zone percentage was 52.3% which resulted in 82.3% zone contact. His chase percentage is 27% with 57.2% chase contact. The more he worked the zone the more contact was made and the fastball naturally had the highest batting average of the five pitches (that have been thrown over 100 times) at a .239 average.

The southpaw is stacked with junk options. His changeup is decently standard and effective; this goes the same for his slider and his sinker which was only thrown and represented 16 pitches for the season. Both of these pitches should be incorporated more often in each matchup as he’s able to throw it for strikes and chase, ‘

Last year Manaea introduced and established a sweeper in his pitch arsenal. This will be the turning point to the victory of his matchups. In 2023 Manaea threw the sweeper only 187 times but the metrics showed its value. He was able to spot it up for a 44% strike range and heat it up between 80-85 mph.

The sweeper finished with a .158 batting average against with a put away measured at 17.2%. This pitch is deceitful and starts towards or inside a left-handed batter and works 12.3 inches of horizontal break, usually into the zone or down and away. To righties, it breaks into the hands or into the zone. This pitch has the lowest of his 2023 hard-hit percentage at 18.5%. By far this pitch could be the out-pitch for Manaea’s repertoire as it can control the beginning of the count, end it, or force the ground out.

Manaea’s fastball use is redundant with repercussions late in the outing. If he increases the amount he uses the sweeper even by 50% of the other two off-speed or breaking balls, he’ll find more success. This will ensure less harm while working in and around the zone and will increase the chase percentage.