Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: A Sanchez Solution?

Jun 17, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) high fives teammates prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) high fives teammates prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays ‘problem of how to deal with Aaron Sanchez‘s innings for the remainder of the year might not be as difficult as it may appear

The Blue Jays have a problem.  Aaron Sanchez is pitching like a Cy Young candidate, but he will eclipse his previous innings high in the game on July 31.  So the Jays are torn between the short-term benefit of having him pitch his arm off for the remainder of 2016 and the long-term risk of … having him pitch his arm off.

But the issue might not be as difficult as it appears.

Suppose, for the sake of the argument, that Aaron could pitch 50 more innings in 2016 than his previous high of 133 before he gets tired.  And say that the Jays were prepared to limit him to ~6 innings per game, so that extra 50 innings translated to 8 more starts.

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The Blue Jays have 6 off-days in August and September.   Suppose the Jays used those off days to skip the 5th starter wherever possible, and suppose we call (for the purpose of this thought experiment) Sanchez the 5th starter.  How many starts, including the start of July 31, would that 5th starter need to make for the remainder of the 2016 regular season?

Turns out the number is 10 starts:  July 31; Aug 5, 10, 16, 27; Sept 6, 13, 18, 27; Oct 2.

So how about this:  let Sanchez stay in the rotation and make all of those starts except for the Twins at home on Aug 27 and the Angels in Anaheim on Sept 18.  For those two starts, call up Drew Hutchison.

Under this scenario, Sanchez would finish the season with 28 games started and ~180 innings.  And importantly, he would start the last game of the regular season against Boston (which might be relevant!) and would be ready to start in the playoffs without having to be stretched out from a bullpen gig.

The downside of Aaron starting 28 games is of course that … he only starts 28 games.  In an ideal world, it would be great to get 33+ starts.  But pushing him that hard would be imprudent at best.

Of course, this solution assumes no injuries, either to Sanchez or to the other members of the pitching staff.  So the Jays would still be well advised to find another backup starter.  But this solution could still work, with or without injury replacements.

The bottom line

Aaron is pitching so well that any compromise that limits his appearances or innings will hurt.  But some level of compromise makes sense, particular when you consider the additional games that he will (hopefully!) be starting in the playoffs.  Might this be that compromise?

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