As a 6-foot-5 left-hander with a unique delivery, Sean Manaea has a tough time finding pitchers similar to himself that he can study.
However, the A's starter thinks he's found one in five-time All-Star Chris Sale. The Boston Red Sox lefty is also a tall pitcher at 6-6 and has a somewhat unusual delivery, throwing from a low arm slot as does Manaea. Sale is someone Manaea always has watched closely, going back to when Manaea was still pitching for Indiana State and developing into a top prospect leading up to the 2013 draft.
In the latest episode of the A's Insider Podcast, Manaea discussed what he likes about Sale's game.
"Whenever I see him on TV my eyes are glued," Manaea said. "It's really exciting to watch someone like that go out and dominate. He's just kind of funky. (We have) sort of similar arm slots. He's one of the guys before I got drafted and throughout the minor leagues - I didn't try to emulate - but I loved what he did and kind of wanted to be like him."
Manaea leads the A's in victories (7) and his 3.75 ERA is lowest among Oakland starters. He's generally taken a step forward in his second big league season and has helped anchor a rotation that was missing Sonny Gray early in the season and has been without Kendall Graveman for much of the season due to shoulder issues.
Manaea especially likes the way Sale can manipulate his fastball, dialing back the velocity and moving it around the strike zone. That's something Manaea tries to do to complement the changeup and slider he throws.
"The way he can locate his fastball in and out," Manaea said. "… He can throw it 90 to 99. I know I don't throw it that hard, but sometimes - I don't really step off the pedal -but I know when I can reserve some energy and know when I can try to blow guys away."
Among other highlights in the podcast, which will be available Thursday afternoon on the A's page at nbcsportscalifornia.com:
-Manaea shares why fans aren't seeing the "Samo-fro" hair style that he sported early in the 2016 season when he first broke into the majors.
-How he still considers his slider a work-in-progress pitch
-And how his dog somehow ended up with an eight-syllable name.
You can subscribe to The A's Insider Podcast with Joe Stiglich on iTunes and find it via Spotify as well.