The Astros hauled in three players from the Blue Jays and a piece of that package was starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez. Let’s see what he brings to the table.
It was well known that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was looking to boost the pitching staff before the deadline and as always he delivered. The more high profile move was the acquisition of Zack Greinke, but a little more under the radar was the addition of starter Aaron Sanchez.
Sanchez was taken by Toronto in the first round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft and made his Major League debut in 2014. He exceeded expectations in his 2015 rookie season playing dual roles as a starter and reliever. Sanchez appeared in 41 games and started in 11 of those games. He went 7-6 with an ERA of 3.22, a 1.9 WAR, and a 128 ERA+.
In his sophomore season, Sanchez had a stellar year the garnered him an invitation to the 2016 All-Star Game. The right-hander was placed in the starting rotation full time and started 30 games for the Blue Jays. He had an impressive 15-2 record, good for a .882 winning percentage that was tops in the American League.
Sanchez led the League with a 3.00 ERA, just below Justin Verlander‘s 3.04. He was also in the top ten in the league with a 5.1 WAR for pitchers. All of these accomplishments got him enough votes to place 7th for the 2016 Cy Young Award.
The 27-year-old had an injury-plagued 2017, going on the Disabled List four times with right finger problems including blisters and a split fingernail. He only appeared in eight games that season and it seems he never returned to his successful ways since then.
This season, Sanchez has started 23 games and has a 3-14 record with a 6.07 ERA, nowhere near the 2016 version. The first 12 games of the season he seemed to be getting his career back on track going 3-5 and posting a 3.75 ERA, but he has gone 0-9 in his last 11 games with an ERA of 8.72 over that span.
His role on the Astros pitching staff is still up in the air. “Ideally, he’s a starter for us next year,” Luhnow said. “Whether or not he’s more impactful this year in the rotation or in the bullpen remains to be seen. I’m going to get [pitching coach Brent Strom] and AJ to figure that out. His last outing was dominant, and if he does that, it’s going to be hard to keep him out of the rotation.”
As we’ve witnessed in the past, pitching coach Brent Strom has done wonders with other pitchers that have been brought into the Astros organization. So let’s not judge Sanchez just yet, give Strom a chance to do his magic once again and turn this young pitcher around.