Posted on September 11, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
On Thursday, the Oakland Athletics had their worst fears about starting pitcher Sean Manaea confirmed. The club has announced that Manaea will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder on September 19. The procedure will ensure that Manaea will miss the rest of the 2018 season. However, the surgery could also force him to miss the entire 2019 season as well, a crushing blow to both Oakland’s present and future.
Manaea initially went on the DL toward the end of August with a shoulder impingement. The team was hopeful that it was a minor ailment that could be cleared up with a little bit of rest. However, it turned out to be a problem with Manaea’s rotator cuff, putting his season in jeopardy. Oakland manager Bob Melvin now says the recovery from the surgery could cost Manaea the rest of 2018 and all of 2019.
“I think the specifics we’ll talk about more so after the surgery so we know exactly what was repaired,” explained Melvin. “Unfortunately, it’s another one we’re going to have to wait basically a year for, and we really and truly feel more for him.”
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Shoulder surgeries for pitchers can be more of a crapshoot than elbow procedures like Tommy John surgery. There is less of a track record of major league pitchers returning from serious shoulder surgery. Obviously, that does not bode well for the future of the 26-year old Manaea.
“He’s always had maybe a little something going on in there,” said Melvin. “I think if you look at anybody’s shoulder that’s a pitcher, you might find something in there. Obviously, they found something enough to where it warranted surgery.”
It’s been a true breakout season for Manaea. He hit the ground running in April by throwing a no-hitter against the Red Sox. Before long, he emerged as the ace of Oakland’s rotation. In 27 starts this season, Manaea is 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA. He’s a big reason why the A’s are three games back of the Astros in the AL West and why Oakland holds a comfortable 7.5-game lead for a wild-card spot. In fact, Manaea would have been the most likely candidate to start the Wild Card Playoff for the A’s.
Oakland’s rotation has been in a state of flux ever since Manaea and Brett Anderson both went to the DL in the span of a few days. Anderson is expected back before the end of the season but is not yet ready. The A’s are now running with a three-man rotation of Mike Fiers, Trevor Cahill, and Edwin Jackson while trying to fill in the gaps any way they can.
“We’ll find a way to manage around it,” said Melvin, who’s been forced to use 14 different starting pitchers this season because of injury.
Now that they have confirmation that Manaea is done for the year, the A’s will have to figure out who they prefer in the Wild Card game if they can’t overtake Houston in the division. Manaea, of course, also would have been a key figure had they advanced to the ALDS. While not entirely unexpected, hearing that Manaea’s shoulder will require major surgery is a crushing blow to the A’s in the middle of their playoff push.