Blue Jays: Dreaming of a dynamic duo in Stroman & Sanchez

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 22: Marcus Stroman
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 22: Marcus Stroman /

Marcus Stroman threw yet another gem on Saturday night, lowering his ERA to 2.98. On the same day, the Blue Jays’ had to return Aaron Sanchez to the DL for the 4th time this year.

The Blue Jays received another excellent outing from Marcus Stroman on Saturday, as he threw 7.2 innings against Cleveland, allowing just a single run. He was a little wild, allowing five free passes, but he worked around that and the five hits he allowed to hold the tribe at bay. He has been, without question, the Blue Jays’ best starting pitcher this season.

Unfortunately, the Blue Jays were unable to pick up the win, despite the strong showing from Stroman on the mound. Francisco Lindor had a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to secure another win for Cleveland, and Danny Salazar was sensational, allowing just one hit through his seven innings of work.

On the same day the Blue Jays’ dropped their fourth game in five days, they also had to put Aaron Sanchez back on the DL as he’s once again struggling with blister issues on his pitching hand. The 2016 AL ERA leader has been dealing with the problem throughout the season, and it’s derailed his entire campaign.

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What was supposed to be his first chance to have the innings limit taken away, has been a fight to get on the field at all. Many writers and fans pegged Sanchez as the lead starter for John Gibbons‘ rotation, despite the presence of veteran pieces in Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ. He was given the fifth start of the season, but he was anything but a bottom rung of the rotation.

At this stage, there’s no timetable for Sanchez’s return to the mound, however, all parties involved want to see him return this season. It’ll be important for him to make a healthy return and build confidence again, even if it’s solely for the purposes of preparing for 2018.

In the meantime, Stroman’s performance has been among the best in the American League. His current ERA of 2.98 is good for third among American League starters, trailing just Chris Sale and Corey Kluber. He’s also 6th in innings pitched (126.2), and 2nd in WAR, again trailing only Sale, who is on another planet this year.

The Duke University product has always had tremendous upside, but I don’t think anyone was expecting him to be the Blue Jays’ top starter, let alone one of the best in baseball. To see him essentially surpass Sanchez on the Jays’ depth chart was unexpected, but it’s also not entirely fair to compare the two this season, given that Sanchez has hardly pitched at all.

Ideally, both young stars would be healthy and performing, but that hasn’t been the case much at all throughout their careers in Toronto, save for the second half of last season. Hopefully Sanchez will be able to find a solution sooner or later, because they really should be a force as a duo at the top of Toronto’s rotation, someday.

Next: Blue Jays: Is it time to let the kids pitch?