Can Aaron Sanchez Be The X-Factor For The Blue Jays Rotation In 2016?
Toronto Blue Jays hurler Aaron Sanchez makes no bones about where he wants to pitch next season, even his best pal Marcus Stroman pulls no punches confidently asserting that Sanchez will be a starter. The question is can Aaron Sanchez live up to his 1st round billing and be the x-factor the Blue Jays so desperately need in their starting rotation.
Sanchez addressed the media along with Stroman yesterday during their Winter Tour stop-off in Toronto. The 23-year old baby faced hurler advised the media in attendance that he had bulked up over the off-season, adding 25 pounds of muscle, which will hopefully assist him in enduring the physical rigours of the long season. The normally slight and lanky Sanchez previously toed the scale at 190 lbs. Stroman boasted that he and Sanchez have made huge gains with their 2-workouts a day routine in preparation.
The former 1st round selection in the 2010 draft has appeared in 65 games over the course of the past two seasons having only started 11 of those contests. Sanchez was relegated back to bullpen duties after coming off the disabled list in late July last season. However, the recent acquisition of closer Drew Storen may afford John Gibbons some flexibility to keep Sanchez stretched out as a starter in spring training.
There is no questioning that Sanchez possesses the stuff to toe the rubber every fifth day, a blazing high 90’s heater with natural movement. Action so good it sometimes causes control issues remaining in the zone for strikes. His arsenal also includes a curve-ball in the high 80’s that can buckle knees with the best of them. The slider and change-up seem to be a work in progress but a necessity if he plans on starting; Sanchez only threw the slider 0.7% of the time and the change-up 1.3% last season. His main staple was the two-seam fastball at 61.8%, four-seamer at 21.8% and the curve ball 14.3% to round out his compliment.
Sanchez made 11 starts last season before succumbing to an injury that was initially tabbed as general body soreness. The prognosis changed to a mild right lat strain and cost him the better of 6-weeks on the disabled list. This is the area where Sanchez is hopeful the added off-season muscle will enable him to be more durable.
At the time of the injury Sanchez had posted a 3.55 earned run average and seemed to be piecing it together after a rocky start to the season. He just came off an 8-inning, 1 earned run victory over the Astros before heading to the disabled list. Although his strike-out tallies were down he had only allowed more than 3 runs in 1 of his last 7 starts and 5 of those starts was 2 runs or less.
Sanchez also was utilized 9 times in the post-season having pitched in every single of the Blue Jays 5 post-season victories. No question this will bode well for the relatively in-experienced Sanchez moving forward dealing with the day to day pressures imposed upon him.
If Sanchez can build off his 2015 season both mentally and physically, the hurler has a great chance to be that x-factor to solidify the rotation. He will undoubtedly compliment the likes of Stroman, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ to form a sound five-some for the playoff hopeful Blue Jays.
All it will take is “9 every 5”.