The decision to move Aaron Sanchez into the Blue Jays’ bullpen was one that was made out of necessity. It addressed a couple needs for this club. But, it did absolutely nothing to help build this “sustainable winner” we’ve been hearing about for years. With the Trade Deadline coming up at the end of this week, the Blue Jays might want to draw their attention to the back end of the bullpen lest they face the same issues they failed to address last off season.
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Last winter, the Blue Jays knew they needed bullpen help. They could not find a solution that suited them, so they ended up riding the potential of a couple young arms in the hopes that it would be good enough. Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna were thrust into important roles at the ripe age of 20. Castro has since been fighting his way back to the club. And, he could indeed make it back with a good showing in AAA Buffalo. Roberto Osuna has been the best bullpen arm the Blue Jays have. He’s taken over the closer’s role with all the confidence in the world from his manager and fans alike.
Enter Aaron Sanchez. After spending time on the DL, Sanchez has been brought back to serve as a pretty scary tandem with Osuna. And, why not? He’s done well there last season with a 1.09 ERA, 2.80 FIP and a 22.3% K rate in 33 innings. But, the decision to put him in the ‘pen is more to do with fixing immediate problems. Firstly, with 2 months to go in the season, the Blue Jays would likely want to ensure Sanchez’ health is protected. Allowing him to work out of the bullpen is a better way to do that. This makes sense given that the role would provide less stress on his body. Even though, to date, his innings are not exactly piling up. He sits at 77 innings if you count the 9 he threw rehabbing.
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What this decision actually does is stop the bleeding of a bullpen that has been rather unreliable. It provides a flamethrower to come in and let his stuff fly for an inning (or two). Sanchez can shoot for the middle of the plate and let the movement of his pitches do the work. It is a much more “free” role, if you will. It makes sense. Looking at the idea of having the two youngsters at the back end is rather calming and exciting at the same time.
But, it solves absolutely nothing for the future. Beyond October, the Blue Jays will have no solution for their bullpen. Aaron Sanchez is a starter. Heck, Roberto Osuna should be too. Many are looking at the future rotation with Sanchez in it. The Blue Jays are too. Osuna should be given every chance too. So, what happens with the bullpen next year? The year after? This club will be in the same place as it was a winter ago.
Perhaps this is why we still hear rumblings that the Blue Jays are still in talks to obtain a closer like Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel. Both are expensive, but Chapman comes with another year of control while Kimbrel is signed through 2018. Are the Blue Jays looking beyond getting through this season? They should be. They should be looking at Aaron Sanchez starting next year. Depending on what happens to R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, there could be a couple holes in the rotation to fill. It wouldn’t make sense to start taking options out.
Aaron Sanchez fills a need right now. He gets to have his health protected a bit in the bullpen while providing an electric and reliable arm to help close out games. But, this is just a band aid solution. Band aids help stop the bleeding, but they don’t treat the actual injury.
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