TORONTO- After the Blue Jays took a 4-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays, skipper John Gibbons announced that Aaron Sanchez will move to the bullpen once activated from the disabled list. Even though 23-year old righty is so valuable as a starter, moving him to the bullpen is the right move for the Blue Jays going forward.
Moving the Sanchez to the pen could solve a gapping hole at the back end of the bullpen. Roberto Osuna has being their best reliever all season and he’s only 20 years old. Gibbons hasn’t figure out how he will use his young right hander, but it’s possible that Sanchez and Osuna could share the closer role.
The Blue Jays could be looking to make a tandem in their bullpen with Sanchez, Osuna and Bo Schultz. Kind of what the Kansas City Royals have with their own big three with Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland.
Sanchez made his MLB debut as a late-inning reliever last season. He posted a 1.03 ERA and striking out 27 over 33 innings. His fastball touches at 97-99 mph and also threw an above average curveball and developing changeup.
During the 2015 spring training, there have been some discussions that Sanchez and Brett Cecil would battle for the closer role. However, Marcus Stroman (Sanchez’s BFF) suffered a devastating ACL injury and the Blue Jays had no choice but to put Sanchez in the rotation.
Sanchez pitched well enough to remain in the rotation, posting a 3.55 ERA over 11 outings. He has been one of the Blue Jays’ best starters before he suffered a lat strain.
With Sanchez back to the pen, the move can present options for the Blue Jays. It is possible that Gibbons want to manage Sanchez’s innings since he only pitched more than 100 innings once in his professional career. Sanchez could pitch multiple innings or just work in late innings. Sanchez can established the pen and take the pressure off of Cecil, Aaron Loup, Liam Hendricks and Steve Delabar.
It’s quite clear that general manager Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t want to spend a lot on relievers. With Sanchez in the pen, this can allow Anthopoulos to only upgrade the rotation at the trade deadline. The market for starting pitching is so deep with Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Cole Hamels and others available.
Moving Sanchez to the pen is the right move for the Blue Jays. If Sanchez can contribute the way he did out of the bullpen last year and Osuna continue his production, then the bullpen will be lot better and Anthopoulos could focus on improving the rotation.