The Growth of Aaron Sanchez

This is the Aaron Sanchez that as a Jays fan I thought was getting.  The most important starter currently in the Blue Jays rotation. He is also the biggest wild card.  He has grown leaps and bounds in just a handful of starts.  Realizing that he doesn’t need to clock it up to 97 every time that he wants to get somebody out.  Whether it’s been Russell Martin, Pete Walker, or maturation, it really doesn’t matter.  Sanchez is learning how to pitch.

Sanchez is the one guy in this starting 5 that can match up with another ace and go toe to toe in a must win game.  Hutchison is going to be a dependable starter, but is not a true ace.  And you can’t roll out Dickey or Beurhle in a winner take all game.  So it will fall onto the shoulders of a 22 year old starter.  It was a beautifully executed game against the first-place Astros yesterday.  Knowing that this is an all or nothing team.  If you can throw strikes, and not give up the long ball they will struggle.  The Jays had a perfect game plan put in place, and it was executed flawlessly.  Sanchez was constantly getting ahead in the count.  Keeping the Astros off balance.  Not trying to over power them; giving them nothing that they could knock out of the park.

Even against the Nats the starting pitching was out in full force.  Dickey was a hard luck loser against Jordan Zimmerman, but he pitched well enough to win that game.   Beurhle has thrown complete games in three of the past four starts. The rotation is beginning to come around.  Estrada and Hutchison have been consistently throwing 6-7 innings each start.  This game becomes easy when you have a rotation that continually gives you quality starts.  Slowly, this team is starting to gain confidence that they don’t need to win every game 10-8.  Knowing that any pitcher that takes the mound can throw up some zeroes after they have put up a few runs on the board makes a world of difference.  The walks have been cut down, which stops the big innings from happening.  It can be a beautiful game when you throw strike one.

As bad as the pitching has been prior to the past two weeks, they actually measure up against each starting rotation in the division fairly well.

New York Yankees:  CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, and Adam Warren

Baltimore Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and Mike Wright

Tampa Bay Rays:  Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, Nate Karns, and Alex Colome

Boston Red Sox:  Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly, and Eduardo Rodriguez

Toronto Blue Jays:  R.A. Dickey, Drew Hutchison, Mark Beurhle, Aaron Sanchez, and Marco Estrada

When you compare all of these starting rotations you don’t see much difference talent wise.  You see a couple of aces on the Yankees in Pineda and Tanaka, and another ace in Archer in Tampa, and that’s about it.  The Jays and the Red Sox have far and away the best two offenses in the AL East.  If these quality starts continue by the starting 5, the Jays could be right there in September.

There isn’t much waiting in the wings as far as pitching goes. Daniel Norris is pitching fairly well in Buffalo, and would be the call-up in case of injury. But it pretty much ends there.   It would be really nice to see J.A. Happ in a Jays uniform right now.  This is the rotation that will need to get the Jays there.  Will it be enough to get them into a wild card game, or a division win?  I have about as much confidence in that as I do in Ricky Romero to throw a strike.

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