Aaron Sanchez made his second return from the DL of the young season and performed admirably, throwing 5 innings and allowing just 5 hits and 1 unearned run.
The Blue Jays got the first of several stars back from the disabled list on Sunday, activating Aaron Sanchez in time to make the start against the Seattle Mariners in the series finale. The 2016 AL ERA leader was solid in the outing, throwing 5 innings and allowing just 5 hits, 1 unearned run and 4 strikeouts.
It was a sigh of relief for the Blue Jays as they’ve been waiting for the talented right-hander to return and dominate the way he did last season. He was one of the American League’s best starting pitchers, and that sort of thing isn’t easy to replace.
As great as it was to see him get through the outing, there were some tense moments as blood appeared on Sanchez’s jersey early on in the game. It wasn’t an obvious problem, as it appeared to just be some small dabs (nothing like Trevor Bauer’s gusher during the playoffs last year), but the Jays were understandably on high alert with their prized starter, watching for any issues with the pitching hand.
Asked after the game by Sportsnet, Sanchez indicated that things were fine and it wasn’t something that was going to bring him out of the ball game this time around. Neither he nor manager John Gibbons seemed to want to discuss the issue, which is understandable given the team’s recent run of injuries, especially with Sanchez.
"“It was not an issue. There was no pain.”- Aaron Sanchez, after Sunday’s start"
Fortunately, it really wasn’t an issue, as he was able to stay in the game and remain effective throughout his 5 innings. He wasn’t dominant, but he definitely had an encouraging outing, especially considering it’s been awhile since he’s been in an actual game situation. Remember that the start between his two DL stints lasted just 1 inning, so it wasn’t a surprise that he exited the game after 5 frames.
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It was also a plus for the Jays that the bleeding didn’t get out of control, pain or not. As was the case with Bauer in last year’s ALCS, if a pitcher is bleeding, especially on their pitching hand, they have to be removed from the game, as the blood could be considered a foreign substance. Not that bleeding is an advantage that many seek, but it’s something that could be used, I suppose.
The fact that he was able to get it under control and remain in the game has to be a positive sign for the Jays, who haven’t been able to catch a break in the injury department all year. Furthering that theme, Steve Pearce excited Sunday’s game with calf tightness, the latest injury for the training staff to dealt with, and have blamed on them.
To his credit, Sanchez continued and sounded like a man who has put the issue behind him, or at least was going to do his best to push through it regardless.
"“I felt like if I went back out there thinking about it (the nail) I would be defeated. I went out there to compete, attack and not worry about what’s going on in the finger. Just go out until I reach my pitch count.”"
Hopefully the issue is finally behind him, as he’s only managed 18.1 innings thus far through the first 38 games, a far cry from where any of us would have expected from the former first round pick.
With Francisco Liriano also joining the DL earlier this week, Sanchez’s return was even more important, and that fact that he exited the outing feeling good has to have the suddenly red-hot Blue Jays, feeling even better.