Of all the major moves David Stearns has made this offseason – say with an AAV of $1.5 million or more – my favorite is the signing of Sean Manaea. While he doesn’t have the long-ago upside of Luis Severino, Manaea also has 81 starts since 2000, compared to 37 for Severino. And that’s with spending more than half of last season in the bullpen. Being busted to a reliever may be the best thing that happened to Manaea, because as a reliever is when he developed a new pitch. Or tweaked his mechanics to make things appear to be new.

We all hope that when a hurler adds a new pitch that it will make him more successful than he’s been previously. How many times have we heard about Tylor Megill adding a splitter, even though the few times he threw it last year, his splitter looked more like a meatball than anything that Kodai Senga would throw? It’s one thing to introduce a new pitch; it’s another to have it be a weapon. But Manaea’s ERA was a full two runs lower in the second half last year, in very similar IP totals.

So, we have a pitcher who had a 3.3 fWAR in 2021 but who fell on hard times in 2022 and the first part of 2023. But then he seemingly turned things around at the end of last year. What do the computer models make of Manaea? Here are the forecasts:

ATC – 138 IP, 4.23 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9.32 K/9, 1.32 HR/9
Marcel – 120 IP, 4.58 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 1.4 HR/9
Steamer – 144 IP, 4.01 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 9.26 K/9, 1.31 HR/9
THE BAT – 137 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.43 K/9. 1/28 HR/9
ZiPS – 113 IP, 4.34 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.08 K/9, 1.35 HR/9

These are not very encouraging numbers. The low IP totals make sense, given the time he spent in the bullpen last year. But in the five seasons in his career when he notched at least 24 starts, Manaea has never delivered fewer than 144.2 IP. With an ERA over 4.00 in three of the past four seasons, it again makes sense for the models to give him an ERA in the 4s.

Yet Manaea’s WHIP and K/9 forecasts are solid. Of the 13 hurlers who qualified for the leaderboards with a K/9 in the 9s, nine had an ERA in the 3s. So why the pessimism with Manaea? That HR/9 rate. Manaea was downright awful in serving up gopher balls in 2022, as he allowed 29 HR in 158 IP for a 1.7 HR/9.

But that was an outlier. Lifetime, Manaea has a 1.2 HR/9. Last year, in his first eight games – all starts – Manaea allowed 7 HR in 26 IP. For the rest of the year, he gave up 7 HR in 91.2 IP. Manaea made four starts in September and allowed 2 HR in 24 IP. It doesn’t seem clear to me that we should expect a ton of gopher balls from him this season.

According to Statcast, Manaea was above-average (63 percentile) in fastball run value last year and great (86th percentile) in offspeed run value. Where he was not good was in breaking run value, where he was poor (14th percentile). Statcast shows the results on his pitches and does have sweeper as one of the offerings for him. The first time that pitch shows up in their classification is on 5/30.

In the 42 times that a PA ended with Manaea throwing a sweeper, there were five singles, a double, a walk and 3 HBP. Batters were 6-38, with a slash line of .158/.238/.184 against the new pitch.

There’s no guarantee that the sweeper will be that effective for Manaea in 2024. But if it’s remotely close, that will give him three above-average pitches. It’s my opinion that guys with three above-average pitches at their disposal don’t wind up with a mid-4s ERA. Here’s my totally biased forecast for Manaea this season:

160 IP, 3.44 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 0.8 HR/9

10 comments on “Mets 2024 projections: Sean Manaea

  • Jimmy P

    Whoa! That’s very optimistic. I hope you are right.

    I do suspect that given the trajectory of his usage, and the new pitch, that a standard computer model based on the past three seasons will not be that accurate.

    Does a computer even “consider” a new pitch? I mean, I suppose one could if you feed it the data. But these projections aren’t based on that kind of detail.

    Prediction: After a rough July, he shaves his head.

    • Brian Joura

      The negativity will come with the next two SP.

      Predicting he shaves his head – now that’s bold. If at any point of the 2024 baseball season Manaea does that – there will be a post here crediting you for the prediction!

      • Woodrow

        Bold,you mean bald

    • Brian Joura

      Will he go even further?

  • Footballhead

    Nothing but my gut reaction, hopes & fears, when I do my predictions….especially SP. Here goes.
    Manaea & Houser will both be solid SP in 2024. One of them will be better then expected, while the other will be lesser then hoped for. I am very optimistic on Manaea though. He may end up with more starts then anyone else on the staff, but I’ll assume a (quick) IL stint that will limit him to 30 starts.
    24 solid, 6 stinkers will give him 175 IP 3.55 ERA 1.25 WHIP and a K rate slightly over 9.2. I know it’s not fashionable to do so, but I believe he (and Houser) could get 11-14 wins. I’ll say 12-10 for Sean. Oh, if we’re talking hair, expect a crazy & hairier bunch of Mets if he becomes the #2 or 3 SP.

  • Steve_S.

    With his recent improvements, Manaea will best his stats from Oakland in 2021!

    168 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 1.0 HR/9

  • Metsense

    Yuk,yuk,yuk…why certainly “Curly” Manaea won’t be a Stooge but he will pitch slightly above average (but not that good as others predicted) . Expect him to fill the role of a SP4 ably.

    149 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.251 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 1.3 HR/9

  • Woodrow

    122IP, 4.28 ERA,6-8

  • T.J.

    I’m more with Metsense on this one but I’ll be hoping lead prognosticator Mr. J is spot on.

    The 2024 Mets…all about hope.

  • Brian Joura

    Will Sammon wrote about Manaea today in The Athletic and had this video of him working out at Driveline. The picture shows him on the Giants but the video is from 2/8/24.

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