Apparently Aaron Sanchez was in Toronto about ten days ago (should I remember this?), and there was quite a bit more of him than when last we saw him.
Still hasn’t found a pair of socks, though, apparently. Put on some damn socks, Aaron!
But the transformation is pretty impressive — and young Sanchy knows it, posting the above image to his Instagram this week, giving it the hashtag #transformationtuesday, and captioning it, “Set goals. Reach them. Then set more. 11-9-15/2-12-16. This is only the beginning. We’re just getting started.”
“Every day in the gym, our slogan was nine every five,” Marcus Stroman explained last month to the National Post, referring to his and Sanchez’s off-season workout sessions. “The idea of going nine innings every five days. We weren’t doing two-a-days for him to be a reliever.”
Aaron knows how pitchers get paid! But also, it seems, he knows that his ability to go deep into games — something that, thanks in part to the Jays’ handling of him as a minor leaguer, he was really experiencing for the first time in 2015.
Sanchez had just four career games of 90 pitches or more, topping out at 92, before he joined the Jays’ rotation last spring. He’d pitched into the seventh inning only five times over 80 minor league starts, only concluding the seventh inning twice and never pitching into the eighth. And when he got hurt last year in his first crack at a big league workload, he knew something had to change.
“It was one of those things where I told myself, ‘Alright, just get through the year, and then this off-season you’ve got a lot of work to put in,'” he tells Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.
“I’ve started for my whole career,” he also says. “It’s what I’m all about.”
Well… it is for now. But he’ll certainly have competition for the Jays’ fifth starter spot this spring, with Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez, and guys like Roberto Hernandez and Gavin Floyd (for some reason), all potentially eyeing it.
We all know the story: Sanchez has tremendous stuff and would be a huge asset for the Blue Jays if he were able this spring to look like a guy who can reliably take the ball every fifth day. Even only being that would, for now, be huge. The Jays offence should provide their pitchers with enough margin for error that the club could let a guy like Sanchez take a nice long run of starts and really get a chance to get a feel for the secondary pitches that are going to be what determines whether his career is in the rotation or the ‘pen.
In other words, it’s the same story as always. But that’s been the story for a very good reason. A.J. Burnett has carved out an excellent career with a similar repertoire, and giving Sanchez this chance, even though they ostensibly are having an open competition for the spot, would be the best thing the Jays could possibly do for themselves with the spot. Aaron just can’t give them too blatant a reason not to.
That will ultimately come down mostly to his performance, to be sure, but his clear determination to be in the best condition possible to hold up to the rigors of being a big league starter is a real good first step.