Is There Cause for Concern with Aaron Sanchez?

It may be hard to believe, but it’s now been over a month since Aaron Sanchez was placed on the disabled list. What was initially diagnosed as an “upper body injury” eventually turned into a lat strain.

It’s been a very gradual rehab process for Sanchez as he’s now just finally beginning to see work in minor league games, two innings at a time. Although he’s on the path to recovery, there’s still no official timetable on his return to the starting rotation.

Some say he may not be back with the Blue Jays for at least another few weeks, but as of yet, there is no set date for his return. Considering the lack of progress with the Jays’ young starter, this may be an instance where very little in the way of news is quite concerning.


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If you’ve been paying attention over the past month, there has failed to be any real progress report on Aaron Sanchez. His initial vague diagnosis of “upper body injury” was also perplexing, which eventually turned into a lat strain.

Admittedly, things like strains and pulls can be difficult to diagnose out of the gate, and that’s been the case for Jose Bautista, Devon Travis and now Aaron Sanchez.

One week after the initial DL stint, John Gibbons initially said he had “no idea” when Aaron Sanchez would be back. Ever since, there’s been this very ambiguous progress report on Sanchez. Just this past week, he finally began his rehab process with an appearance in Dunedin.

I’m not saying that the Blue Jays are trying to hide something here, but could there be cause for concern with Aaron Sanchez? And I don’t just mean in the immediate future, I’m talking about the long-term health of one of their promising young starters.


Despite possessing great velocity and incredible movement on his pitches, Aaron Sanchez is notorious for not having the best mechanics. Since he was only pitching in short stints last season as a reliever, most were able to overlook any flaws in his mechanics.

But with Sanchez’ recent injury spell, his mechanics are coming into question once again, which is leaving some wondering whether it’s time for the Blue Jays to overhaul Sanchez’ delivery.

Chris O’Leary listed Aaron Sanchez as one of the pitchers he foresaw as having injury troubles in the future. So I asked Chris about his thoughts on Aaron Sanchez, and he wasn’t confident that Aaron Sanchez has a future as a starting pitcher.

“Aaron Sanchez has a (sadly but increasingly common) horribly inefficient lower body and linear stride. Basically, his stride is overly stripped-down, un-athletic, and inefficient, all in the name of simplicity.

He makes the Inverted W as a result.

To fix him, you’d have to rebuild his mechanics literally from the ground up. However, and unfortunately, what he does is a product of the conventional wisdom about pitching mechanics, so I think the odds are quite low that the Blue Jays will actually fix him.

Sanchez is at best a reliever, unless something changes dramatically.”

A few weeks ago, Gregg Zaun and Jamie Campbell stopped by Prime Time Sports and Zaun offered his two cents on what the Blue Jays ought to be doing with Aaron Sanchez. Zaun had similar things to say as O’Leary did about Sanchez’ mechanics.

“He’s going to get cut on if he doesn’t fix himself. When he gets ready to launch, he is in exactly the same position as Kerry Wood, Stephen Strasburg and oh by the way … Noah Syndergaard who looks exactly like him.

All these guys with plus plus arms, these nasty breaking balls and movement on the pitches, all these guys have blown out … (Sanchez) is on his way, in my opinion.

The biggest mistake that they’re making right now is that they’re not taking him in A Ball and fixing him right away.

They’re waiting until he breaks and then fixing him instead of saying ‘well, we’ve seen these mechanics before. And every one of these guys had plus stuff just like you did, and every one of these guys broke down.’

Everyone seems to be in love with the idea of letting these kids come in with terrible mechanics and dominate at the minor leagues or fall on their face and then get cut on, and then maybe after that we’ll try to make some adjustments to his pitching mechanics and keep him healthy.”

So that’s two people who feel that Aaron Sanchez needs to go back to the minor leagues and have his mechanics rebuilt from the ground up. For a team that’s out of contention and has the liberty of time, that may be a consideration … but not for the Blue Jays.


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By all indications, it sounds like the Blue Jays are planning on keeping Aaron Sanchez in the starting rotation. Unless the front office makes a move for another starting pitcher, the Blue Jays will be dependent on Sanchez to keep them in contention.

I’ll elect to defer to the experts when it comes to Aaron Sanchez’ mechanics (Chris at Blue Jays Plus for example). I reached out to Chris to see what his thoughts were on the possibility of scratching Sanchez’ current delivery and starting from the ground up.

“All we’ve heard about Sanchez and his delivery the last couple of years is the stride shortening. People will go on and on about stride length and velocity but neglect to point out that Sanchez’s velocity hasn’t been affected.

Why? Because it’s a common misconception about the lower half. The two biggest tasks for the lower half is aiding rotation timing and bracing the body through ground reaction forces. Small tweaks were made to Sanchez’s delivery in order to find some command that has plagued his entire minor league career.

I find it hilarious that these people want to break down a top prospect after he’s already reached the majors and is desperately needed on the main roster. All because they are trying to be Nostradamus!

Will Sanchez get hurt again? Probably. But is it worth it to strip down everything he has done to reach the big leagues and risk years of further development because you freeze frame a shot of his mechanics and fear injury? Not in my opinion.”

There’s the salient point in all of this – does it really make sense to start from the bottom with Sanchez when the Blue Jays have already invested so much time and energy to get him to where he is right now?

The amount of time it would take to rebuild Aaron Sanchez’ mechanics might equal that of the rehab process after a major surgery. Even then, there are no guarantees that tinkering with his mechanics would even work for Sanchez.

What if it actually made him worse? Unless the Blue Jays’ scouts, evaluators and trainers begin to see a huge red flag with Aaron Sanchez’ delivery, it seems premature to start from scratch and rebuild his mechanics.

Prior to his final start on June 5th, it looked like Aaron Sanchez was finally starting to turn the corner. He was inducing more ground ball outs, he was getting more swinging strikes, his walks were down and he was pitching deeper into games.


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If Aaron Sanchez was displaying many of the same traits that Ricky Romero did in his 2012 campaign, then I’d be all for a potential mechanics rebuild for Aaron Sanchez.

Factoring in how far and how quickly Ricky Romero fell apart at the seams, that’s when a stint in the minor leagues to make some adjustments was completely warranted.

But considering that Aaron Sanchez was on the upswing and showing some positive progress prior to hitting the disabled list, that’s the kind of thing I’d be very hesitant to mess with right now.

Hat tip to Chris from Blue Jays Plus and Chris O’Leary for their input on this article. 

[Related: Alex Anthopoulos Clarifies the Aaron Sanchez Starter/Reliever Debate]

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

3 thoughts on “Is There Cause for Concern with Aaron Sanchez?

  • July 12, 2015 at 4:09 pm
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    Inverted W usually, but not always, causes arm lag. Arm lag, where the stride foot plants prior to the ball being cocked is the major stresser of the elbow.

    Reply
  • July 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm
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    Sanchez has been mismanaged from the start. He never was allowed to stay at any level until he dominated or developed even decent control. Also, he never was allowed to pitch enough innings in the minors to strengthen his arm for the rigors of starting in the majors. He was promoted despite his inability to control his fastball even moderately. He should be sent to 2A to improve his control and develop the arm strength necessary to be successful as a major league starter.

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