On Saturday night, Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea threw the first no hitter of the 2018 season and the 297th no hitter in the history of baseball. Manaea dazzled in a two-walk 10-strikeout masterpiece against the Boston Red Sox and put the exclamation point on what has been a phenomenal start to the season for him.
For Manaea to throw a no hitter is one thing, it's the type of moment that helps define a career and is marked as one of the greatest accomplishments a starting pitcher can reach. It's another remarkable factor that Manaea not only threw a no hitter, but he also matched his career-best mark for strikeouts in a game with 10. What makes it all the more incredible is that it came against the Red Sox, who entered Saturday with not only the best record in baseball but also the most productive lineup in the majors.
Manaea's night is the shining moment of a scorching hot start on the mound for the 26-year-old righty. After Saturday's historic outing, Manaea's season line now sits at a 1.23 ERA with a 23.1 strikeout percentage and a 4.6 percent walk rate across five outings. While some might have entered with concerns about Manaea's lack of strikeouts, he entered Saturday with 20 and a 6.51 K/9 in 27 2/3 innings, the righty still generated a swinging-strike rate over 10.4 percent before this dominant performance.
The 26-year-old is establishing himself as the clear ace in Oakland's rotation and a go-to starter in all fantasy leagues. He showed on Saturday that even when faced with tough matchups, his ability to mix his pitches and locate them with consistency is there and he can generate whiffs no matter who the opponent is.
While there certainly is regression coming, which should be obvious given his 3.50 FIP versus the 1.23 ERA, a pitcher who strikes out over 23 percent of the batters faced, walks fewer than two batters per nine innings and can hold an ERA under 3.6 is everything you look for in a top-35 fantasy starting pitcher. While his fastball velocity may be down for the second year in a row and now barely averaging 90 mph, Manaea's control and movement of his three pitches makes him a pitcher very capable of pitching without a lot of velocity.
He could further solidify his status there if he delivers another strong outing in a tough matchup against the Houston Astros.