TORONTO- Okay! Here’s the deal! People know that Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Akins made crystal clear that Aaron Sanchez will be headed to the bullpen sooner rather than later. This has been the major story in baseball ever since the start of spring training.
Okay! Give Atkins a lot of credit! He did add a lot of pitching depth with the deadline additions of Francisco Liriano, Scott Feldman and Mike Bolsinger to make that decision happening. But why in the world would you send an Major League All Star pitcher to the pen when he’s 11-1 and leading the American League in ERA at 2.71 in 139.1 innings? You’re talking about taking a potential CY Young Award candidate pitching out of the bullpen. Really? Are they seriously going to replace Sanchez with Liriano, who led the national league with a 5.46 ERA?
Yes, this may strengthen the bullpen, but it could also weaken the rotation in many ways.
Are they really banking on Liriano to pitch like he did from 2013-2015? Are they banking on Marco Estrada’s back to be fully healthy? Are they banking on R.A. Dickey to have a dominating 2nd half with an unpredictable knuckleball? Are they going to rely on Marcus Stroman to find his consistency? And what about J.A. Happ? Sanchez has been their best starting pitcher all season long and taking him out of the rotation doesn’t make any sense.
Yes, there is an understanding that the Blue Jays’ management want to protect their youngster’s arm and prevent arm injuries long-term. Look at Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg. But why worrying about the future when this team have a legitimate shot of winning the A.L East division and perhaps the World Series this season?
There’s no guarantee that moving Sanchez to the bullpen will save his arm. Sure, he’ll throw fewer innings, but he’ll be force to deal with back-to-backs and high leverage situations. That could cause a lot of stress for a guy who can top 98 miles per hour on the radar gun. Keep in mind that the Blue Jays have scientific explanation or logical examination to prove that the decision is best for the young righty.
The big concern going forward is how this would affect the clubhouse. Russell Martin made it clear that he didn’t like the move and pointed out that Sanchez hasn’t shown any sign of fatigue. Estrada believed that Sanchez should stick to the rotation. This could be a major distraction to the players as they are going to have to deal with the media on their tailbones every single day.
Are the Blue Jays management really that arrogant? How would president Mark Shapiro know that no youngster have ever pitch more than 200 inning? Madison Bumgarner did it at age of 24 when he won the World Series MVP for the San Francisco Giants. So why can’t Aaron Sanchez do it?
In the end, Sanchez deserve to remain in the rotation. He pitched well enough. He’s bigger, stronger and smarter. He has every right to stick to his role as the new ace in the rotation. So let the kid pitch!