MATT Matthew George MANNING
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Nickname:   N/A Position:   RHP
Home: N/A Team:   TIGERS
Height: 6' 6" Bats:   R
Weight: 200 Throws:   R
DOB: 1/28/1998 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 25  
Birth City: Elk Grove, CA
Draft: Tigers #1 - 2016 - Out of high school (CA)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2016 GCL GCL-Tigers   10 29.1 27 46 7 10 0 0 0 0 2   3.99
2017 MWL WEST MICHIGAN   5 17.2 14 26 11 5 0 0 0 2 0   5.60
2017 NYP CONNECTICUT   9 33.1 27 36 14 9 0 0 0 2 2   1.89
2018 EL ERIE   2 10.2 11 13 4 2 0 0 0 0 1   4.22
2018 FSL LAKELAND   9 51.1 32 65 19 9 0 0 0 4 4   2.98
2018 MWL WEST MICHIGAN   11 55.2 47 76 28 11 0 0 0 3 3   3.40
2019 EL ERIE   24 133.2 93 148 38 24 0 0 0 11 5   2.56
2021 AL TIGERS   18 85 96 57 33 18 0 0 0 4 7 0.279 5.80
2021 TAE TOLEDO   7 32.1 40 36 10 7 0 0 0 1 3 0.303 8.07
2022 FSL LAKELAND   1 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0   0.00
2022 IL TOLEDO   7 20.1 19 23 10 6 0 0 0 1 1   2.66
2022 AL TIGERS   12 63 55 48 19 12 0 0 0 2 3 0.231 3.43
2023 IL TOLEDO   3 8.2 8 9 8 3 0 0 0 0 0   0.00
2023 AL TIGERS $729.00 15 78 60 50 21 15 0 0 0 5 4 0.212 3.58
Personal
  • Matt is the son of Rich Manning, who played two seasons in the NBA in the mid-90s. And Matt's brother, Ryan was a medical redshirt basketball player at Air Force in the winter of 2015-16. Matt also spent more time on the hardwood than the mound.

    Manning graduated from Sheldon High School in Sacramento, California, in 2016, with a commit to Loyola Marymount to play both baseball and basketball. Matt averaged 19.4 points-per-game as a high school senior.

    Matt didn't make the conversion from outfield to the mound until his sophomore year at Sheldon High.

  • Manning has long legs and a high waist, as well as wide shoulders that should allow him to add strength with more weight.

  • June 2016: The Tigers chose Manning in the first round, out of Sheldon High School in Sacramento, CA. He signed for $3,505,800, via scout Scott Cerny. 

  • In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Manning as the #1 prospect in the Tigers organization. He was at #3 a year later, early in 2018. He moved up to #2, behind only RHP Casey Mize, in the winter before 2019 spring training. And he stayed at #2 in 2020.

    They had Matt as the 4th-best Tigers prospect in the spring of 2021.

  • Matt is very coachable, converting teaching moments onto the mound. His competitiveness is impressive.

  • Mike Rabelo stared away as his starting pitcher loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning. And he wanted his pitcher to notice.  Matt was the pitcher, the Tigers' top pick from the 2016 Draft, one of the more gifted teenage arms in baseball. But at that point on Aug. 26, 2017, the only part of his identity that mattered was ownership of the jam on the basepaths at Fifth Third Ballpark in a 0-0 game. This was Rabelo's chance to give Manning a push.

    If Manning wanted a chance to go six innings in a game for the first time since joining Class A West Michigan in early August, here it was.  

    "I tried to make sure that when he looked over to the dugout, because they all do, I wanted him to almost look at me like we weren't even paying attention," said Rabelo, the Whitecaps' first-year manager and the 2017 Midwest League Manager of the Year. "I didn't want him to think, 'Oh man, they're going to bring in a reliever.' Just let him know, 'Hey, dude, this is your game.'

    "He got out of it, he ended up getting a win, and it worked out great. But we wanted him to see that if you're going to be starting, you're going to be in jams late in the game, and as a front-line starter, you're going to work through those. And he did a great job."

    Manning recalled how he worked through it, striking out Jesus Sanchez, a Midwest League All-Star and the fourth-ranked prospect in the Rays' system.  "We went first-pitch changeup to him and then got him off balance a little bit," Manning said. "And then I dropped in a curveball, tried to get him upstairs to chase, and then I think we went fastball away."

    Said Whitecaps catcher Austin Athmann: "He got that confidence of getting the first-pitch breaking ball over the plate, and then after that, he just kind of went about it like there was no one on base.  I talked to him in the dugout after, and he just kind of had a sigh of relief. He said, 'Hey, I feel comfortable.' And it looked like he gained that confidence: 'I can pitch in this league right now, and I can do really well in this league.'"

    Manning is a former high school basketball standout who passed on a chance to play two sports at Loyola Marymount.  Manning hasn't missed basketball, and he has made the transition so easily.

    "Competitive-wise, I think it's helped me, taking the hitters on like one-on-one, little mind stuff," Manning said. "But it's a lot more mentally challenging than basketball. But it's also helped me learn to put things away and just go after the next pitch.

    "I'm pitching, and it's a full-time thing, kind of like playing a little basketball game out there, but it's lower intensity, more mental. I think training your brain to handle it all, training your arm to handle it all, that's the biggest part."  (Beck - mlb.com - 9/8/17)

  • In Manning, the Tigers got a live arm with a clean slate. While the 6-foot-6 Manning can fire a mid-90s fastball, he has only been doing so for a few years, having converted to pitcher in his final couple of seasons in high school. He carried neither the wear nor the habits of someone who'd been pitching since Little League. Yet Manning had the instincts to learn and repeat his mechanics as he went along.

    In 2017, Manning had gained about 20 pounds from when he was drafted.  That turned his basketball frame into a pitcher's frame. He embraced the routine of competing every five days and preparing the other four. He's learning all the time.

    "Put it this way: I wouldn't even know he's in the clubhouse when he's not pitching," Matt's manager, Mike Rabelo said. "He is real quiet, goes about his business, extremely nice kid. He's just trying to soak it all in. He's been as advertised. He's young, does his job, keeps to himself. He's been great."

    Manning will take a bit longer to reach the Majors, but he also might have the greatest upside.

    "I think this is good for him," Rabelo said. "I hope he pitches forever. And you know what, he's going to be pitching in games a lot bigger, a lot more stressful, a lot more on the line than just the Midwest League playoffs. This kid has potential to be a front-end guy, and he's going to be pitching in some pretty big games for the Detroit Tigers."

    "I haven't looked back once since I got drafted," Manning said. "I think I'm where I'm supposed to be right now, and I'm just rolling with it."  (Beck - mlb.com - 9/8/17)

  • July 2018: Manning represented the Tigers in the Futures All-Star Game.

  • July 2019: Matt represented the Tigers at the Futures All-Star Game.

  • 2019 Season: Matt really put it all together in the Double-A Eastern League. He finished second in the league with 148 strikeouts (10.0 per nine versus 2.6 BB/9), second in WHIP (0.98) and third in ERA (2.56), all while limiting hitters to a .192 batting average.

    Manning took leaps forward in 2019. May was his best month, as the righthander allowed five earned runs across 31.1 innings pitched. The 21-year-old was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year thanks to his consistency and ability to throw all three of his pitches for strikes.

  • Manning began 2020 at the alternate training site but was shut down in late August with a right forearm strain. He was back throwing and working out at the Instructional League.

    MLB DEBUT

  • MLB debut (June 17, 2021): The right-hander pitched five innings, allowing two runs and striking out three. While he took the loss, he gives the Tiger fans hope that he, along with the other young Tiger pitchers, can compete sooner rather than later.

  • Matt didn’t get the big league debut that former Tigers prospects and friends Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal enjoyed in 2020.  But on June 23, 2021, the scene at Comerica Park might have made it worth the wait.

    As Manning made the walk from the mound to the dugout in the sixth inning, with his home debut and second big league start complete, he received a standing ovation from the crowd.  Among the fans on their feet were Manning’s parents, who were positioned behind the Tigers’ dugout.

    “I didn’t expect it. It kind of caught me by surprise,” Manning admitted after the 6-2 win over the Cardinals.  “I kind of thought it was a standard thing they do when a starter throws some good, quality innings.  But it definitely felt good.  I felt welcomed.  I felt like I was home.” Manning kept a straight face, his eyes focused on the dugout steps and his waiting teammates, but the significance of the moment was apparent.  Mize and Skubal talked in 2020 about missing out on families, friends and crowds for their debuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Manning, who was at the alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio, when Mize and Skubal were called up to the big leagues, got the full experience for his first Major League victory.

    The postgame beer shower in the clubhouse was expected.  The crowd reaction is no longer taken for granted, not after last season.  “The first time you walk off the mound in your home field, it only happens once,” manager A.J. Hinch said.  “I know the fans have been patiently waiting for this trio of pitchers, along with some other position player prospects.  And we’re starting to see some guys grow and mature and be contributors up here.” 

    Six days after he made his Major League debut, he wasn’t dominant, but he was effective.  “It was kind of everything I expected, everything I wanted it to be, getting out there for the first time,” Manning said.  “It’s a long run from the dugout to the pitcher's mound.  I looked around, and it just felt really good to be here.  All the support from the fans, it was great.”  (Beck - mlb.com - 6/23/2021)

  • Jan 20, 2023:  For the second consecutive offseason, Matt Manning has been training in Florida with some of the Tigers’ other young starting pitchers. It makes sense, considering the bond they’ve built. Manning, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Alex Faedo came up through the farm system together, including in the summer of 2019 as a star-studded rotation at Double-A Erie. They were critical cogs of the Tigers’ rebuild.

    “It's a good group right now, and we're enjoying the time together,” Manning said.

    That friendship remains, even if everything around them has changed, from their own situations to the organization.

    Mize is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery; he won’t return to pitching until late this season at the earliest, with 2024 looking more realistic. Skubal is expected to pitch at some point this season, but his recovery from flexor tendon surgery puts his timetable in flux. Faedo is due back from right hip surgery but has pitched just 69 1/3 innings over the last three years. “Mentally, it's always tough going through that stuff,” Manning said. “They're just attacking every single day and getting better and stronger. Once they get healthy, it's going to be very good for our team.”

    Manning is the only one whose career hasn’t been interrupted by surgery. Even he has had injuries, though, from a shoulder scare last April that cost him a couple of months to a bout of tendinitis that ended his 2022 season a couple of weeks early and led to a visit with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Meister.

    He’s fine now and said he has had a normal offseason routine. The Tigers expect him to be OK, too. Even with veterans Eduardo Rodriguez and Matthew Boyd fronting the rotation, Detroit is leaning on Manning to take the next step in his career.

    “His best is good enough,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We've said that over and over and over again with him as he's developed his routine, and he faces some lineups for the second and third time [in a season]. We saw he's able to take down some innings. He's able to do it against different styles of lineups — power, speed, guys that are on fastballs, guys that he can blow away.”

  • When Manning was healthy, he was effective. His 3.43 ERA was the lowest of any Tiger with at least 10 starts last year, and his 3.78 FIP was second to Skubal.

    Manning posted quality starts in five of his final nine outings. While he averaged an extra strikeout per nine innings over his 2021 average, his hit, home run and walk rates all dropped. His 2.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio was third best among Tigers starters. His fastball became a more effective pitch, even while using it more than half the time. His slider became the swing-and-miss pitch he’d been needing, drawing a 35.8 percent whiff rate. Aside from the Mariners, who roughed him up for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings on Aug. 30 at Comerica Park, the toughest opponent for Manning was arguably his health.

    “It's definitely frustrating,” he said. “I never want to be on the IL, and I have a track record of being pretty healthy. So my first experience of dealing with that stuff, mentally and physically, was a challenge.”

    Once he was cleared for a normal offseason workout plan, he took the opportunity to look at his delivery and how to make it more efficient. Much of that has focused on his lower body rather than his arm. Pitching coach Chris Fetter has been a big help as usual, but Manning credited the Tigers’ newest pitching assistant, Robin Lund, with helping him understand the different components of his delivery. “I got a bet that we have the only professor in our organization,” Manning said, noting Lund’s early career as a kinesiology professor. “He's not afraid to try different things. He doesn't care where you were drafted. He doesn't care what kind of hype you had around you. He looks at everybody kind of like a stick figure, and if he sees deficiencies, he can break it down and tell you where.”

    There’s more in store for Manning than health, but it starts there. The more he pitches, the more he learns. He’ll focus on that, and let the Tigers worry about his workload.

    “I think for him, as a young pitcher at this level, he's going to have a ton of confidence based on the positive outings that he had last season,” Hinch said. (J Beck - MLB.com - Jan 20, 2023)

  • The Detroit Tigers made history with a combined no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the ninth overall no-hitter in Tigers history but only the first combined no-hitter. Starting pitcher Matt Manning went 6 2/3 innings before RHP Jason Foley took over and pitched a hitless 1 1/3 innings, giving way for closer Alex Lange to take over for the ninth inning. 

    Manning, the former first-round pick displayed arguably the best three-pitch mix he has had in any of his 35 MLB starts. As the game went on, Manning — the No. 9 overall pick in 2016, a supremely gifted athlete who has battled numerous injuries in an oblong development — began to put all the pieces together. He used his fastball, slider and curveball to net five strikeouts. And despite dealing with a sore side muscle that trainers were checking on between innings, Manning cruised through six innings and did not encounter any trouble until he walked Biggio with two outs in the sixth.

    “Honestly, I swear I had no idea (of the no-hitter),” Manning said. “After I had a scuffle in the first, I was just trying to eat innings, protect the lead.” 

    “I think that’s what I’ve been talking about for the last couple starts,” Manning said. “When I can mix those curveballs and sliders in the same at-bat is when I can get different shapes and get different flinches and swings, and where I think I can get hitters off the barrel a little bit more.”

    By the seventh, as the rest of the crowd began to lock in on every pitch, Manning still had no idea what was going on. That provides insight into his mindset on the mound, a ferocious competitor who can sometimes get in his own way, a guy who was battling through discomfort and just trying to preserve his team’s two-run lead.

    Even as boos erupted in the stadium upon his exit, Manning did not put two and two together. The magnitude of the day did not register until pitching coach Chris Fetter sidled up to Manning and told him what was going on. The recounting was classic Manning.

    “I didn’t know until Fett came over and told me, ‘You didn’t give up any hits,’” Manning said. “I was just like, ‘Oh dang, that’s crazy.’” 

    Foley, who has a 2.06 ERA this season in the midst of a breakout year, entered the game and got Whit Merrifield to fly out to center. 

    And so before the ninth, Lange, the Tigers’ de facto closer who after the game wore a shirt screen-printed with his catchphrase “Chill and make pitches,” readied for the moment.

    “It’s just one of those situations where you make the moment as small as possible and go out and execute,” Lange said. “These guys had a hell of an eight innings in front of me, so yeah, we got the cleat on them, so let’s finish the job.” 

    “Foley’s not gonna give up a hit. Lange’s not gonna give up a hit,” Manning said. “I was pretty confident after I came out.”

    When it was over, the Tigers leaped out of the dugout to celebrate as a team. The three pitchers stood together for a live interview. They got drenched with water and doused with a Gatorade bucket.

    And as the sun shined down after a rainy beginning, they soaked in their own small place in history.

    “It’s pretty sick anytime you achieve something like this in this game,” Foley said, “and I’m happy to do it with these guys.” (Stavenhagen - Jul 8, 2023 - The Athletic)

Pitching
  • Manning's 93-98 mph FASTBALL exhibits late riding life up, as it enters the zone, with explosive finish with either sink, or arm-side run. It is rough on hitters when he keeps it down in the zone. His heater plays up because of the massive extension he gets from his lanky 6-foot-6 frame. He has a 60 grade on his heater. Matt added a SLIDER before the 2021 season.

    “I think (the slider will) help my pitches tunnel a little better and help my curveball with just something more I can throw to get people guessing,” Manning said in 2021.

    Matt gets tight spin on his 12-to-6 power spike-CURVEBALL also grades an above-average 60, but he still occasionally struggles to maintain his arm slot with it. When he's on top of it, it can buckle a batter's knees with the depth it already has. It will improve. He's throwing strikes with his curve and sinking CHANGEUP, which he has feel for, endeavoring to use the same arm speed and slot as his heater. And his change has a 55 grade.

    Manning possesses a natural, athletic fluidity to his 6-foot-6 frame and generates excellent extension on his pitches. Matt has worked incessantly to refine his delivery and repeat his arm slot. His tempo, athleticism and penchant for attacking the strike zone give him potential above-average 55 grade control.

  • 2022 Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Fastball 52% - 93.5 mph; Slider 21.4% - 84 mph; Curve 12% - 79.8 mph; Change 7.3% - 86.5 mph; Sinker 7% - 93 mph.

    2023 Season Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Fastball 49% - 93.4 mph; Slider 28.4% - 82 mph; Curve 17% - 80 mph; Change 5% - 87 mph.

  • "The thing that excites me is that once he makes an adjustment, he's able to retain it and you don't usually have to visit things over and over and over,” Tigers minor league Pitching Coordinator A.J. Sager shared in 2019. "You can coach him and then watch him develop, and he usually puts those things into play pretty quickly.

    "What he does effectively is pitch up in the strike zone with his fastball, but it's just been labeled a little bit different now where you talk about tunneling pitches. That's basically coming out from the hitter's standpoint where they look like they're on the same plane, and he's been able to do that through analytics, and then his curveball comes off that pitch nicely.” (Spring, 2020)

  • When his mechanics are synced, Manning can dominate, but as with many tall pitchers, that's not always the case. His arm slot varied in 2017 from over the top to more of a high three-quarters delivery. He also varied from being direct to the plate to throwing across his body.

    Evaluators are impressed with Manning’s athleticism, delivery and extension. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 95 mph with late carry. He paired his fastball with a sharp-breaking curveball that flashes plus. He improved his changeup, but it’s still fringe-average. If Manning can improve his fringe-average control, he has mid-rotation potential. (Spring 2019)

  • "Obviously, the physical attributes jump out at you initially," vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said. "He's 6-foot-6 or so. He's got a really good arm. Good athlete. He can really spin a breaking ball. He's got some feel for a change . . . He's certainly got the makings of a high-end starter that is so hard to find."

    Manning spent the early portion of 2017 in extended spring training learning a lot about pitching as well as other important traits, like holding runners and fielding his position, before he headed to short-season Connecticut in June.

    "He's got a plus fastball with, I'd say, both riding and sinking life," Littlefield said. "It's got some late explosion to it. He's got a good downhill plane, so there's some deception . . . He's a great-looking, young, athletic righthanded pitcher with a lot of projection." (Chris Iott - Baseball America - 8/07/2017)

  • Matt's mechanics are very good, considering his long arms and legs. Manning starts his delivery by taking a step backward with his front leg, then he lifts his leg and slightly coils his hip. His landing point varies at times. Usually, Manning lands with his toes pointed toward the righthanded batter’s box.

    At times, he lands more open, making it difficult for him to find a consistent release point. And his delivery can get a touch across his body at times, but he also creates deception and gets enough extension to the point that one evaluator said it looked like the 6-foot-6 righthander was shaking hands with his catcher.

    But in 2016, Manning  shortened his arm stroke in the back, allowing him to repeat his release point and improve his command of the strike zone.  He still throws across his body, profiling some deception. His excellent athleticism helps him repeat his delivery to throw plenty of strikes.

  • One of the most impressive elements to Manning’s delivery is his arm speed, which gives him a chance to develop his already elite fastball as he matures.

    “There were a lot of things about him that attracted us to him,” scouting director Scott Pleis said. “His size, his athleticism, the way he does things, the ease of his actions. We always saw the plus fastball. We saw the curveball in there. He’s just been a good performer when we’ve seen him.”

  • 2018 Season: The Tigers focused on improving the extension in the 6-foot-6 Manning’s delivery this season, which paid dividends. He sits in the low-to-mid-90s with an unhittable-at-times 12-to-6 curveball.

    And Matt dominated in his second stint in the MWL. His 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings ranked first among all league starters with 50 or more innings.

  • Despite having stabbing action in his arm swing, Manning’s athleticism gives him the body control to develop average control, but at times he has struggled to maintain a consistent release point because he drops his arm. (Justin Coleman - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2019)

  • His combination of stuff and athleticism gives him the upside of a mid-rotation starter. And he already gets a 55 grade on his control. His tempo, athleticism and ability to attack the strike zone help him project to have future above-average control.

  • Jan. 14, 2020: Manning was named one of the top 10 MLB pitching prospects entering the season. His best pitch is his curveball. It is his lone breaking pitch.

  • 2020 Season: Had the coronavirus not blocked Matt's journey, he may have already reached the Major Leagues with the Tigers. A strong 2019 performance in Double-A Erie moved the needle. 

    The right-hander assumed he would make his MLB debut in 2020 after a tune-up in Triple-A Toledo. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shortened season, thus catapulting Manning to the alternate training site. Then he was shut down with a forearm strain in August.

  • 2021 Improvements: Spring training is in full swing and the Tigers got their second glimpse at one of their most prized pitching prospects in Matt Manning. More important, the fans got a peek at his new breaking ball, rumors of which have been churning in the mill over the past month since it was first revealed that he was working on a second curveball.

    The big question has been what exactly is this new breaking pitch: is it an adjusted version of his traditional 12-6 offering or does it have more slider-like qualities? Mum has mostly been the word in the media leading up to March, but it appears that we might just finally have some answers. After two innings of relief against the Phillies, there is now a four-pitch sample pool to help figure out what is up with Manning’s new little toy.

    As an overview, the 23-year-old righthander tossed two full innings, allowing an earned run on three hits while striking out two using 28 pitches, raising his ERA to 2.25 in the preseason. His first outing on March 3 — also against the Phillies — saw him throw two scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit while striking out one. Not too shabby of a start for a member of Detroit’s pitching prospect triumvirate.

    It appeared that Manning has shortened his stride and shortened his arm path somewhat. The adjustments afford him the ability to make some tweaks, which appears to be the case with his “new” breaking pitch and could potentially provide more benefits as he gets more comfortable with these refinements. All in all, he looks a little more stable and in control, while still showing easy gas up to 97 mph. No doubt he can reach back for more if required.

    Back to the original topic: What about that second breaking ball? The term “curveball” and “slider” have been often used interchangeably to describe it thus far and so we were keen to get our first look at this new weapon. As Manning told Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic Detroit in February, the pitch is still gripped like his standard 12-6 curveball, but with a little different release and emphasis.

    “I’ve asked some people if they want me to call it a slider or not,” Manning said of his new pitch. “I’ll call it a slider because it moves that direction. It’s my same grip. I’m just throwing it with a new arm slot and a different wrist position.” (Adam Dubbin@AdamDubbin - Mar 10, 2021)

  • June 15, 2021:  Though Manning began the season at Toledo seemingly on a countdown to a summer callup for his MLB debut, such a call seemed implausible two weeks ago as he sat with a 9.23 ERA and 11 home runs allowed through six starts. He took a step forward with six innings of two-run ball and eight strikeouts in his most recent start.

    “His velocity has ticked up a little bit towards the end of his outings, and we’ve got to get him into his outing with his best stuff,” Hinch said. “He’s eased into it velocity-wise and execution-wise. The pitch that’s really a separator for him is his breaking ball. He’s always in between curveball and slider. He’s got to find the right mix and the right feel for when to throw it for a strike and when to throw a chase breaking ball as well.

    “The velocity up top is a really good, effective pitch for him, but that all is predicated on throwing strikes with your other pitches. If you’re a high fastball pitcher, and there’s no other threat to throw a strike with another pitch, that puts you in a really tough spot against good hitters. So I think as the outing went on last time, he landed his breaking ball at a more effective rate and essentially made his 95-plus fastball be pretty good.” (J Beck - MLB.com - June 15, 2021)

  • July 27, 2021: Manning got the message from pitching coach Chris Fetter and manager A.J. Hinch about his reliance on his power four-seam fastball at times over his first six Major League starts. So he made a couple of tweaks.

    First, he made a slight change to the grip on his curveball. It was a very effective pitch for him on his way up the Tigers' system but a secondary pitch for him, behind his slider, in his previous few starts.

    "I just closed my fingers up a little bit so I can kind of spin it a little better," Manning said.

    That little adjustment made a big difference. Manning’s curveballs averaged 2,347 rpm in spin rate Monday and accounted for three of his four strikeouts, though he also hung one for Brent Rooker’s home run that sailed 460 feet in the sixth inning. By comparison, his curves are averaging 2,230 rpm this season, according to Statcast. He also had five more inches of vertical break on the curve compared to his season average.

    “It’s just another thing I can use when something doesn’t feel as good and just have more weapons at my disposal,” Manning said.

    The second adjustment was a new pitch—a sinker that Manning had just started working on between starts. “Yeah, I learned a two-seam,” Manning said, almost matter-of-factly. “I worked on it a couple days ago, so I broke it out.”

    And did he ever. According to Statcast, Manning threw 21 sinkers, more than anything else in his widening arsenal.

    “He’s been working on it a little bit to try to find a way to get the ball into righties,” Hinch said. “He’s got a tendency to yank the ball glove-side to righties with his four-seamer, so Fetter and him in these last couple 'pens, he’s been trying to implement it. 

    “He can do a lot of things when asked,” Hinch said. “The curveball was the best he’s had since he’s been a big leaguer. That’s progress. The slider is coming. The changeup, he’s got a ton of confidence in. So that’s a true four-pitch pitcher with room to grow and get better. So we’re excited with where he’s headed, and the fact that he’s willing to adapt along the way tells me a lot about him.” (J Beck - MLB.com - July 27, 2021)

  • 2021 Improvements: Manning started throwing a new pitch on July 26, he said after, were two-seam fastballs. It's a pitch that before that night he hadn’t thrown in a big-league game.

    “I learned a two-seam,” he shrugged, as if it was no big deal. “I worked on it a couple of times the other day and I used it.”

  • Aug 28, 2021: “His delivery’s cleaning up. His conviction has been very good his last few outings,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He knows what he wants to do. He’s executing. He has no fear. It doesn’t look like he’s trying to place the ball anymore. He’s relying on his delivery to execute the pitch.

    “Matt is a terrific pitcher; we’ve always known that. I just preach patience with him, and it’s starting to pay off because of the comfortable confidence that he’s demonstrating start to start.”

    The tick up in velocity has been noticeable. Manning’s four-seam fastball averaged 93.4 miles per hour in June, dropped to 93.1 mph in July, but will finish August averaging 94.1 mph for the month. His sinker averaged 94.0 mph for August, up from 93.3 mph in July. Just as important for the sinker, his swing-and-miss rate with it jumped from 10.3 percent in July to 18.2 percent in August, his highest rate on any pitch for the month.

    The jump has moved Manning’s fastball velocity to the top half of big league pitchers for the season. Five of Manning’s 10 swings and misses came on his sinker. Four more came on the slider, a pitch that has been hit hard at times this season but also has one of his better swing-and-miss rates—20.7 percent in July, 17.4 percent in August.

    “I really wanted to get the ball inside and kind of own that part of the plate,” Manning said. “I think I did, and that helped my slider and my changeup get to the outside.” (J Beck - MLB.com - Aug 28, 2021)

  • 2021 Season: I had the pleasure of getting a couple of looks at Manning during his days in Toledo and happened to catch his most successful starts in what were otherwise rough outings (attested by his 8.07 ERA before getting called up). The first was a May 22 outing in which he’d go 6.2 innings, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. The other would be his last start before the call: 6 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K.

     Interestingly, though, and as I wrote at the time back in my days with Prospects Live, I was gravely concerned about Manning’s lack of a viable third offering. He was essentially a fastball/curveball pitcher and would mix in a changeup that moved more like a cutter.

    Manning’s call can be a lesson that even if a player is not ready for the big leagues, perhaps it is still the best place for them to be. The right-hander is a completely different pitcher in terms of his arsenal; picking up a more traditional changeup as well as a slider that has above-average flashes while almost entirely scrapping a curveball that many evaluators projected to be a plus pitch at the highest levels.

    The early fruits were rotten before the changes he made. In his first 10 starts:  48.2 innings, 33 ER, 13 BB, and 25 K good for a 6.10 ERA while opponents batted .305 and supplied a .829 OPS against him. His last five starts in 2021 were encouraging, however; four of which came against playoff opponents: 22.1 innings, 11 ER, 12 BB, 22 K; a 4.43 ERA (3.53 FIP) while opponents hit just .195 against.

    Manning’s future: For Matt, fixing his stinker starts should be his main priority. Four of Manning’s 18 starts yielded 5+ earned runs, but 11 of those same 18 appearances resulted in 2 runs or fewer. Ironing out his secondaries and developing more consistency with those offerings would do wonders for his hit totals.  (Jacob Boes - Oct. 24, 2021)

  • 2022 Season: Even though he pitched 22 fewer innings in his sophomore season, Manning saw solid improvement in his ERA (5.80 in 2021 to 3.43 in 2022), FIP (4.63 in 2021 to 3.78 in 2022), and K-BB% (6.2 percent in 2021 to 11 percent in 2022).

    Manning made 12 starts for the Tigers. He pitched to a 3.43 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP and accumulated 63.0 innings of work. Manning surrendered 19 walks and was able to punch out 48 opposing hitters last summer while pitching for the Tigers.

    Last year he battled some injury trouble. A shoulder strain had him missing time early on, and then a forearm strain caused his season to come to an end early to ensure no further damage was done.

  • July 8, 2023: The Tigers gave their fans something to remember for a very long time when their pitchers combined for a no-hitter to completely neutralize the offense of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the rest of the Blue Jays. Alex Lange made sure the Tigers will complete the rare pitching feat when he earned the save with a scoreless duty on the mound in the ninth inning that sealed the deal for Detroit in a 2-0 victory.

    Matt started for the Tigers in the Blue Jays game and blanked Toronto for 6.2 innings. He issued three walks with five strikeouts before getting replaced on the mound by right-hander Jason Foley, who finished the seventh inning and made sure the Blue Jays wouldn't score nor even get a hit to set the table up for Lange, who got the job done.

    It is the ninth no-hitter in the history of Tigers baseball. It is also just the 20th combined no-hitter ever in Major League Baseball.

  • 2023 Season: Manning showed some good stuff while healthy in 2023, pitching to a 3.58 ERA and 1.04 WHIP across 78 innings. He only struck out 50 hitters with a poor 7.9% swinging strike rate; so he has demonstrated nothing to suggest he will help fantasy teams in strikeouts.

    However, that’s now two straight seasons (albeit in smaller samples) where he has produced solid ratios and shown a deep arsenal of pitches that he can use to keep hitters off balance. (Eric Samulski - October 13, 2023)
Career Injury Report
  • March 21-April 20, 2018: Manning missed a month after being diagnosed with a low-level oblique strain in Spring Training. He'll be shut down until he's pain-free, the team announced, but is expected to be ready to return to action for Class A West Michigan in a couple of weeks.

  • Aug. 27-end of 2020 season:  Manning was shut down for the season after dealing with a right forearm strain.

    Manning said that the right forearm strain that led to his shutdown this summer was a minor injury that likely would have cost him just a few weeks in a regular Minor League season.

    “It would’ve been a quicker recovery,” Manning said in a video conference with reporters. “But with just the timing of it and kind of the scenario, it was just best to shut down for the season and get ready for next year.”

    That preparation for next season 2021 is already underway. Manning talked with reporters from the Tigers’ Instructional League camp in Lakeland, Fla., where he isn’t pitching in games but is throwing and working out.

    “I’m doing mechanics stuff, playing catch, light catch, now into next year,” Manning said. “I’m just going to keep throwing and get my arm strong and as healthy and as strong as I can get it for next Spring Training.”

  • April 16, 2022: Manning left his start against the Royals with right shoulder discomfort. His velocity was down on all of his pitches compared to his previous start, in most cases by about half-a-mile per hour.

    April 17-Aug 2, 2022: Matt was on the IL with right shoulder inflammation.

    May 26, 2022: The right-hander was shut down after acknowledging biceps tendinitis soreness following his second consecutive shortened rehab start.

  • Sept 29, 2022: Matt was on the IL with right forearm strain.

  • April 11, 2023: Manning was hit by a come-backer off the bat of Alejandro Kirk.  A precautionary X-ray revealed a fracture of his fifth metatarsal on his right foot.

    April 12-June 27, 2023: Matt was on the IL with right foot fracture.

  • Sept. 6-Oct 2, 2023: Manning was forced to leave his start against the Yankees after taking a Giancarlo Stanton liner off the lower leg. The ball left the bat at 119 mph, which makes it the second-hardest batted ball of this season.

    Manning was able to field the ball and toss it to first for the 1-3 putout and final out of the inning. Between innings, he was removed for reliever Beau Briske. After the game, the team announced that Manning had a fractured foot and would miss the final three weeks of the season.