Should Blue Jays Aaron Sanchez be in the Bullpen?

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It’s been the raging debate over the off-season in Blue Jays land. What to do with the bullpen. Without many external options it seems that the Aaron Sanchez-to-the-closer role has been decided in the minds of many. He was stellar last season coming out of the pen. We all saw that. His numbers were scary good and thus showed he could excel in the bullpen for your Toronto Blue Jays. But is this the right step in his development?

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The Jays have used this tactic over the years to quite a rousing success. Start out a guy in the pen one year to get him used to the bigs then stretch him out the next season to join the rotation if the bullpen stint was successful. The caveat being 1st year in the pen and second year into the rotation. If Sanchez is placed in the pen rather than stretching him out for a spot in the rotation it could be detrimental to his development as a starter. If there is one thing you can never have enough of it’s starting pitching. The need for at least 8-10 arms over the course of a season isn’t out of the question.

How have the Blue Jays fared doing the 1 pen 2 rotation theory? Check out these rascals who pulled it off and then some.

Jimmy Key

In 1984, the greatest left-hander to come out of the Blue Jays organization got in to 63 games as a rookie. closing out 24 of them. He got his feet nice and wet and it truly prepared him for his 1985 season when he started 32 games, pitched 212 innings and had an ERA of 3.00 for the AL East Division champion Jays. He would end up with 184 victories and a .617 winning percentage pitching for the Jays, Yankees and finally with the Orioles in 1998. He got two World Series rings and a reputation as one of the smarter pitchers to ever don a baseball uni.

David Wells

The second generation ornery one (Dave Stieb was the first) also took his licks in a relief role. Boomer took the ball in out of the pen for 3 seasons from 1987 to 1989 before being relegated to the starting rotation in 1990. He would be unceremoniously dumped from the team for the Detroit Tigers and then after a run through Cincinnati the Bronx and Baltimore he came back for a couple more seasons in 1999 and 2000 before pissing off management and getting himself traded to the White Sox for the much heralded Mike Sirotka…who would never pitch an inning for the Jays. Wells would go on to win 239 games and post a .604 winning percentage over a fairly stellar 20 year career. Hall of Famer? No. Next tier of pitcher? Absolutely.

Roy Halladay

Doc took the ball as a starter and also out of the pen for the first three seasons of his MLB career from 1998 to 2000. He cemented himself in the rotation in 2001 after a much talked about demotion to A-Ball and then rose to prominence as perhaps the best pitcher of the new millenium. 203 victories in 15 years is amazing and if he didn’t get hurt might have challenged the 300 win plateau. A perfect game in the playoffs and a .659 winning percentage for his career are just staggering stats that makes one wish we could watch the master pitch just one more time.

So you see dear reader. Success can be bred from reliever to starter. With Sanchez I say keep developing him. This season he could be anywhere from the fifth to the eighth starter in the rotation breakdown and eventually challenge Marcus Stroman and Daniel Norris as the best young starter in Blue Jays land. Let him stretch out…develop…if he solves his command issues it should be as a starter so he can keep developing his third and fourth pitches he will need to succeed as a starter. Hey if Boomer could do it…

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