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Aaron Sanchez Possibly Headed to Bullpen

Aaron Sanchez Keith Allison via


Aaron Sanchez back to the bullpen?

One of the most asked questions surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays organization, is whether they will move All-star Aaron Sanchez back into the bullpen to help protect his young arm. The Toronto Blue Jays are considering moving Sanchez at some point this season to help protect his arm, and have been since the start of the season. Sanchez competed in spring training for the 5th spot in the rotation and won it from Jesse Chavez, Gavin Floyd, and Drew Hutchinson. Sanchez began last season as a starter but after a DL stint was moved back to the bullpen to form a dominant late inning duo with closer Roberto Osuna.

Sanchez blew past his career high in innings pitched in just the first half of the season, throwing 118.1 IP while his professional high was 100.1 IP. He has not made the decision simple for the Jays front office as he has been arguably their best starter, leading the team in multiple categories, including innings pitched. As recent as June, manager John Gibbons told ESPN’s Buster Olney that Sanchez will be moved back into the bullpen to hopefully preserve his arm.

“Yeah, he’s open to being a reliever if he has to. But I know in his mind he’s always wanted to be a starter,” Estrada said. “To finally get the opportunity, he’s showing what he can do. He’s an all-star, and I don’t think he’s making it back to that bullpen. I hope he doesn’t.”

Even his own teammates have even begun weighing in on the looming decision. Marco Estrada believes that Sanchez should finish his breakout campaign in the rotation and not a relief role based on an innings limit. “He’s an All-Star and I don’t think he’s making it back to that bullpen” Estrada said to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. Estrada believes that although the decision will be made by the front office, that keeping him as a starter would be best for the teams post season aspirations and for Sanchez himself. Estrada views the 24 year old as a key piece to the rotation, stating that the team needs him and “He’s one of the best pitchers out there” and that if they want to win a world series their best shot is with Sanchez as a starter.

While the Blue Jays brass has not released a hard limit on Sanchez’s inning total to avoid the Matt Harvey/Stephen Strasburg debacle. They have stated that they will watch him for signs of fatigue before making any decisions.

While the decision will be made by the front office, it’ll take a lot of flack if it moves Sanchez back into the bullpen as the 24-year-old has shined in a surprising rotation. The Jays trade deadline moves will be centered around whether they will keep Sanchez as a starter or a move to the bullpen as they will surely look to shore up which ever end is left weaker by the decision. They do have some internal options such as Drew Hutchinson, Jesse Chavez, Gavin Floyd, or Scott Diamond.  None of these pitchers will be the impact pitcher he has been this season.  Presumptive ace Marcus Stroman has struggled, and Sanchez has been exactly what the Blue Jays desperately needed.

With the starting pitching market being very thin and having shipped off top arms in the David Price, Troy Tulowitzki deadline deals last year the Blue Jays would serve best off as leaving him a starter. Sanchez has worked hard to become a starter, that was always his goal and a move to the bullpen, while protecting his arm in theory could be a set back for the future young ace.

Final Decision: Keep as a Starter. The starting pitching market is too thin to offset the loss of difference maker in the rotation.