It sounds like Aaron Sanchez is going to make his next scheduled start tomorrow. While that’s encouraging, is it a good idea with his recent flare-ups?
If you think you’re frustrated with the way the last 2+ seasons have gone for Aaron Sanchez and his troublesome pitching hand, just imagine putting yourself in his shoes.
While he’s arguably one of the most talented pitchers the Blue Jays’ system has produced over the last two decades, it’s been maddening to see Sanchez held back because of a series of blister, fingernail, and tendon issues with his right hand. He was held to just eight starts in 2017 after leading the American League in ERA the season before, and made just 20 starts in 2018, many of them abbreviated because of the recurring problems.
The same issue has popped up for Sanchez again in two out of his last three starts, first with an apparent blister that was starting to form three starts ago, and then with what was called a “nail avulsion” earlier this week. Both times the right-hander had to come out of the game far earlier than planned, which put additional strain on an already taxed bullpen.
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Surprisingly, it sounds like Sanchez is going to make his start on Sunday though, and claims that this latest nail avulsion issue is the least of his worries compared to what he’s already gone through even this season. We didn’t really get a clear picture at what the latest setback looked like so maybe it’s not as bad as it seemed. That said, don’t google “nail avulsion” unless you have a strong stomach.
To me, the real question is whether or not Sanchez should be making this start, even if the Blue jays badly need the help in the rotation right now. I’m all for Sanchez trying to “tough it out”, especially after the last couple of seasons, but I sincerely hope that the Jays aren’t making a mistake by running him out there without missing any starts. I get that rest hasn’t exactly proven to be the cure-all for his wonky hand, but this team really can’t afford another 2-3 inning start from their rotation right now either.
I do understand why pushing him makes sense, especially because everyone involved stands to benefit if he can stay on the mound. The Blue Jays will get a badly needed member of their rotation, and he could theoretically improve his trade value before July 31st if he can stay healthy and look like the pitcher he was in 2016, or even in April. Sanchez knows that opportunities in the rotation aren’t endless, even for a pitcher of his talent, so he has to change the narrative if he wants to continue being a starting pitcher at the highest level.
That narrative is also important for him as well, as he’s set to be a free agent after the 2020 season. If he can stay healthy and perform over the next season and a half, he’ll get a multi-year deal worth eight figures per season. If he can’t, there’s no telling how far his stock could fall, especially after what’s happened in free agency over the last couple of seasons. Changing the narrative from a “band-aid” to a starter with All-Star upside won’t be easy, but it is possible.
Which is why I wonder if making this start on Sunday is a mistake, only because I don’t want to see that nail issue exacerbated, or any other setbacks for a pitcher who seems to be hanging on by a thread right now. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not much I’d like more than to see him put this all behind him, but given what we’ve watched over the few seasons, it’s pretty hard to have faith that’s what will happen.