Game Threat: Blue Jays (2-0) @ Rays (0-2)

Aaron Sanchez
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Sanchez takes the hill tonight and, for the first time since being re-named a starter after a near-flawless spring campaign to win the fifth spot in the Jays’ rotation, he’ll face a big league lineup. Or at least the Rays’ lineup.

Here we go!

Sanchez mowed down pretty much everybody he was asked to face in the Grapefruit League, but obviously this is a different kind of test. And while it would be a mistake (not to mention kinda insufferable) if we made every Sanchez start a referendum on whether giving him that job was the right decision, his certainly remains a story to watch — and it sure would be nice to see him stayed pointed in a positive direction.

For Sanchez, that means being able to repeat his mechanics, and the ability to effectively use his secondary stuff — the former for the sake of his command, the latter to be able to minimize the damage lefties will cause him, after they hit .279/.390/.488 off him last season.

John Lott spoke to Sanchez for us two weeks ago, and the young pitcher explained that he feels better about repeating his delivery with the weight that he gained over the winter, and declared that his curve and changeup were making good progress. Writing at ESPN.com, Eno Saris picked up on some of John’s work (as well as Drew Fairservice’s recent piece on Sanchez for us, as well) put together a big piece today on why making Sanchez a starter is clearly the right call, likening him (SPOILER ALERT) to the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez.

I can live with that!

And maybe I’m just too full of early season optimism to worry too much about the number of things that could make this whole thing go sideways, but after the spring he put in I think it’s going to actually be fun — as opposed to nerve-wracking — to find out what he really is.

SCUTTLEBUTT

Drew Storen will function as the Jays’ closer tonight, as Roberto Osuna isn’t available after working in back-to-back games to start the season. Cue unfunny internet jokesters:

Speaking of Storen, Barry Davis tweets out the clip of his pre-game chat with Storen. Meanwhile, there was a legit good chat in response to my dumb joke tweet, between @KyleMatte and @_ClintB_, about Storen’s velocity — which they tell us was down a little bit last night, though he’s been a slow starter with velo before, so… [shrug].

I’m being much too hard on Storen, obviously. He’s just been a little meltdown-ish sometimes. But also for very much most of the time he’s been a pretty damn good reliever. That said, I did choose him in the sidebar poll we have going about who will be the Jays’ most important reliever. But that’s because I think Cecil and Osuna will be total bosses. If Storen is his excellent self, that’s going to be so, so key. 

TV: Sportsnet Ontario, Pacific, SN1

Next Game(s): Tomorrow, @ Rays, 1:10 PM ET

And now, the lineups…

Toronto Blue Jays

Kevin Pillar(R) CF
Josh Donaldson(R) 3B
Jose Bautista(R) RF
Edwin Encarnacion(R) DH
Troy Tulowitzki(R) SS
Justin Smoak(S) 1B
Michael Saunders(L) LF
Russell Martin(R) C
Ryan Goins(L) 2B
RHP Aaron Sanchez

Tampa Bay Rays

Logan Forsythe(R) 2B
Logan Morrison(L) 1B
Evan Longoria(R) 3B
Corey Dickerson(L) DH
Desmond Jennings(R) LF
Brad Miller(L) SS
Steven Souza(R) RF
Kevin Kiermaier(L) CF
Hank Conger(S) C
RHP Jake Odorizzi
  • DAKINS

    The umps got the call right unfortunately. Within the new rules, that wasn’t a legal slide. (If you blatantly try to interfere with the second baseman by throwing your hand out, taking your body out of the base-path to 2B it’s going to draw attention from the other team.)

    However, it’s clearly not how the rule was meant to be taken, so hopefully the pendulum swings back a bit and things like this don’t happen. The fact that it’s early in the season says there are a few kinks in the new rules that need to be ironed out. Look at the Yankees/Astros game as another example of this.

    (I mean come on, look at what A-Rod had to say about the game, “I’ve never read a rulebook in my life. I don’t know anything about rules.”) LOL!!!!

    Unfortunately for the rest of baseball, you don’t want to upset Jose Bautista. We all know how that turns out.

      • Paul M

        You were, however, welcome to put your spikes behind his knee in the hopes of blowing out his ACL…

        It’s irritating, but the rule seems pretty cut-and-dried. The funny thing about a lot of posts is the focus on the second baseman. He’s basically called out because he doesn’t stay on the bag after his slide. That’s the rules violation of the new sliding rule.

      • DAKINS

        That’s exactly what my point was.

        However, the rule was changed only in the interest of player safety, not to remove the possibility for the runner to break up a DP. His attempt to do so was outside of the rule, the fact that he did attempt to, wasn’t.

  • Capital

    Even without the new rule that slide is illegal. Grabbing the baseman was against the rules before this year. It’s just the new rule adds the actually trying for the base part (that Jose also didn’t do) and makes it review-able.

  • AJ, Breakfast Army Fan

    People need to stop saying he “grabbed” the second baseman. The foot hit Jose’s wrist guard. Maybe it looks like it because of the impact of his arm on the leg, but if you look at the replay, he didn’t grab anything.