Aaron Sanchez is in completely uncharted territory this season. Pitching a full season from start-to-finish in the starting rotation, he’s racked up a sizable inning count, which currently sits at 185 innings thrown this year. His previous career high was around the 100 inning mark.
Despite having his workload nearly doubled year-over-year, Aaron Sanchez is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, Sanchez may actually be ramping things up as the Blue Jays are on the brink of securing a playoff spot.
Aaron Sanchez has been a special case to the Toronto Blue Jays since Opening Day and he’s been one of the club’s most crucial starters. But the status of Sanchez has been debated more than any other player on the roster … and for good reason.
Considering the huge leap in innings from one year to another, one would expect Sanchez to experience some sort of fatigue or loss of velocity. But at this important juncture for the Blue Jays, Aaron Sanchez is showing no signs of slowing down.
For the most part, Sanchez’ four-seam fastball velocity still averages slightly better than 95 MPH. The only noticeable trend might be the uptick on his curveball; which averaged around 77 MPH earlier in the season, and is now hovering around 80 MPH.
Even as Aaron Sanchez reaches the tail-end of his season, his fourseam and sinker velocity has remained constant throughout the month of September.
Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins has said that they monitor things like spin rate in order to indicate things like fatigue with their pitchers. Surely, the Jays are paying close attention to Aaron Sanchez’ spin rate as well, but that also seems to be on trend.
How exactly does spin rate play into this? Admittedly, it’s one of the newer tools at the disposal of front offices, but Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star talked to Ross Atkins about how advanced stats played into the Blue Jays’ decision on Aaron Sanchez.
Atkins told The Star the Jays’ front office will be considering “every piece of information” available in making a decision on Sanchez, from a subjective analysis of how he looks on the mound to any changes in his pitches’ spin rates.
A decline in the spin rate of some of Sanchez’s pitches — or an increase in other ones — could signal fatigue or a change in his delivery.
That last little spike in spin rate during Aaron Sanchez’ September 11th start is interesting to me. That of course was less-than-stellar start at Fenway Park when Sanchez was roughed up for 6 runs over 3.2 innings. Sanchez threw 75 pitches that outing and it’s quite possible he was simply throwing harder as he laboured through that start.
But other than that, if you’re the Toronto Blue Jays right now, you’re feeling very confident about potentially starting Aaron Sanchez in a winner-take-all Wild Card game. To me, he’s the one to get the ball next Tuesday, either against the Baltimore Orioles or Detroit Tigers.
Who knows exactly how much longer Aaron Sanchez would pitch beyond a Wild Card game … but the longer he remains in the starting rotation, you really have to like the Blue Jays’ chances.