Alright, alright, alright. In only eight days the Toronto Blue Jays will begin their 2016 campaign, it was a long wait… but we made it guys! Spring Training is coming along gingerly and with minimal injuries (except for Edwin Encarnacion, but that’s a tale for another day). The Jays are hitting bombs in Florida, and pitching isn’t underachieving (yet).
So let’s talk about the starters. Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, and J.A. Happ are all locks for starting positions come Opening Day, but it still is somewhat unclear who will snag that 5th starter spot in the Blue Jays rotation. It looks to be a three way battle between youngster Aaron Sanchez, recently acquired Jesse Chavez, and the inconsistent Drew Hutchison.
Jesse Chavez has been pretty average this spring while staying consistent with his pitching and not giving anything away. Hutchison has shown some signs that keep you interested, but as well shows signs of bust that makes you give your head a shake. It’s frustrating for us fans and even more frustrating for him as I can only imagine. Let’s not forget that Drew Hutchison was the Jays Opening Day starter last year and even though he did do well at the beginning of the year, he ended up pitching himself into AAA as the season continued. Now, Aaron Sanchez has had a awesome spring and he seems much more confident. He spent his off-season with longtime buddy and Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman, working out at Duke University. It seems that was a smart choice as its been reported that Sanchez has added 20+ pounds to his 6 foot 4 frame, and you can totally tell by looking at him.
From how Spring Training has progressed, it seems like the 5th spot in the rotation is Aaron Sanchez’s to lose. He’s showing more control around the plate (which was his fault last year) while still using his high-90’s electric fastball to keep hitters on edge.
Now having Sanchez start is the main goal for his young career, but having him in the bullpen with that velocity adds major depth to the Jays pitching staff as a whole. Let’s take the World Series Champion KC Royals as example. They didn’t flourish because their starting pitching , they were successful all season due to their fireball throwing bullpen that came into games and blew it past opponents. It really showed in tight game situations where they were almost a guarantee for outs; which really brings confidence to the team and can translate to offence.
All in all, Aaron Sanchez looks to be the man to take the starting spot, but don’t be totally disappointed if he ends up starting the season in the pen.
Matthew Mair @mattmair08