Blue Jays Will Move Aaron Sanchez to Bullpen, Then What?

Toronto Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons, says moving Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen is going to happen. We look at possible follow up moves.



For the most part, the ‘Aaron Sanchez as starter or reliever’ debate has been settled. He has come into the 2016 with determination and it has paid off. His offseason work has resulted in him cruising to a 6-1, 3.38 start to this season. He’s finally stepped into the starting role and silenced the doubters. But, it won’t be enough for him to keep his spot in the rotation. We knew heading into the season that the club had set some kind of vague cap on how many innings he’d throw this year and when he reached it, he’d be moved into the ‘pen to save his arm.

Apparently, that approach will not be altered by any kind of performance from the pitcher himself. His consistency will not alter the organizations plans. Manager John Gibbons has confirmed that. We hear the proclamation on Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast.

Basically, it doesn’t matter how well Sanchez does, the club is not changing their mind. “For safety reasons, health reasons, he’s going to end up down there”

“The thing is about ol’ Sanchie – every time he goes out there, he’s going six, seven, eight innings, so he’s burning up some innings pretty quick.” – Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons

Sanchez has not pitched more than 133 innings in a season and the club doesn’t appear comfortable with the thought of him attempting to do so this season. In fact, they may be forced into acting on their hard stance sooner than they may have thought. Sanchez currently sits at 85.1 innings, thanks to his ability to go deep into several more games than most would have expected. It is safe to assume that watching him average over 6.5 innings per start was not part of their plan.

This could force the Blue Jays to fill his spot in a couple different ways. The first that comes to mind would be check in on Drew Hutchison down in Buffalo to perhaps give him a shot at redemption in the big leagues. They did have him up for one start already. He won. Thus far, for the Bisons, #HutchShow has a 3-3 record to go with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.111 WHIP, 25 walks and 75 strike outs in 12 starts. He’s tossed 69.1 innings. Walking over 2 batters per game is still concerning for Hutchison.

It is difficult to say that the Blue Jays would be willing to just hand the ball over to him based on his 2016 showing. That said, stranger things have happened. The club could feel comfortable with taking a chance on him. However, taking a chance on him and trying to compete for the division at the same time may be to much to ask. Do you want to replace Sanchez with Hutchison is what they need to ask themselves.

If this idea does not comfort them, they may look to be active on the phones as the Trade Deadline approaches. This option might be a bit more problematic. We saw a flurry of activity last summer and what it did for the fortunes of the team. But, with those moves, we also saw a lot of talent depart. The Blue Jays don’t exactly have the same goods they had last year. Instead of a bevy of upper level minor league talent, they have a crop of younger prospects that have not reached their peak in terms of value. Make no mistake, there is talent in the system, but there is not a lot of the kind you see moved in those mid-summer blockbusters.

So, if the Blue Jays are going to look to fill the spot in the rotation form outside the organization, they’ll need to be clever about it. They’ll need to find a partner who is willing to look past the above belief- that Toronto’s system is depleted. They’ll need a GM who is wise to the talent further down in the organization. As well, they’ll need to find a target that won’t break the bank, so to speak.

One such target could be a guy like Rich Hill in Oakland. He was brought up as a potential target that won’t cost a lot of heavy prospect pieces in Episode 78 of the Jays Nest Podcast. The reason he might work is that he’s 36 yrs old and heading into free agency. He’s signed for $6M this season, which makes his price tag palatable. He’s off to a good start in 2016 with the Athletics. He’s sitting on a 8-3 record, 2.25 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 24 BB to 74 K. He’s averaging nearly 6 innings per start.

None of this is to suggest that the Toronto Blue Jays will indeed look into any of the above options. What we do know is that they will be moving Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen. Doing so creates a hole in the rotation. The need to fill that hole may come sooner than the club may have thought. In order to adjust, they’ll consider all options. Whether it is by promoting from within or going outside the organization, we can rest assured the club will do its homework. If there is a silver lining to prematurely ending the Aaron Sanchez as a starter adventure, it is that we get to see him come into a game in the late innings and fire away.





*Featured Image Credit: Terry Foote UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0





Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.