Toronto Blue Jays: Starting Job is Aaron Sanchez’s to Lose


The fifth starter spot in the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation is up for grabs at spring training, leaving us all to wonder which man will earn the duties?

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Grapefruit League action is underway, and the one question surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays rotation is who will earn the fifth starter’s spot? Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, and J.A. Happ are all locks for the other four spots, with Stroman likely to become the ace of the staff.

Who are the candidates for the fifth starting spot? Flame-throwing right-hander Aaron Sanchez, recently acquired Jesse Chavez, and the inconsistent Drew Hutchison.

Sanchez doesn’t have much starting experience, being used mostly out of the bullpen so far in his young career, but saw some time in the rotation early in the 2015 season. It’s a small sample size, but in the eight starts prior to his injury on June 5, he went 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA and .722 OPS.

The 23-year old never threw less than 97 pitches and averaged 6 2/3 innings in those outings, but the biggest concern about him as a full-time starter is his durability. However, that may have been remedied in the off-season.

It’s reported that Sanchez added an extra 25 pounds of muscle to his six-foot-four frame through a workout regimen with Stroman at Duke University. It remains to be seen if his body can handle a 200-inning season.

The 2010 first round draft pick possesses an electric high-90’s fastball. If he can dust off his changeup, he would be an impressive weapon at the back end of the Blue Jays’ rotation.

Toronto Blue Jays
Feb 22, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Chavez (30) throws a bullpen session at Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Chavez was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks to be a spot starter and reliever. He made 47 starts for the A’s over the course of two seasons and while his numbers weren’t spectacular, they were definitely reasonable for a fifth starter.

In 2015, the 32-year old went 7-15 with a 4.18 ERA over 157 innings. The season before, he had a career best 3.45 ERA while striking out 136 over 146 innings.

Hutchison has two seasons as a starter under his belt and has shown flashes of his potential at times. He has a career record of 29-21 with a 4.92 ERA.

Last year was a Jekyll and Hyde act for the Lakeland, Florida native, as he was dominant at home and awful on the road. In the friendly confines of Rogers Centre, he went 11-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 91 strikeouts through 98 innings.

Away from Toronto, Hutchison was 2-3 with a 9.83 ERA. The right-hander enjoyed the highest run support out of any starter in the league and was the reason why his wins to losses looked so good.

The 25-year old struggled with his command and was demoted to triple-A Buffalo after winning his 12th game on Aug. 16, as Toronto could get away with only having four starters until rosters expanded. His performance on the mound must have not sat well with John Gibbons, as he was left off of the post-season roster.

Hutchison could find his command during spring training, which would make the competition interesting between him and Sanchez. I could very well be proven wrong, but I see Chavez losing the fifth starter role to either Hutchison or Sanchez and coming out of the bullpen for the Jays.

All three men will see their share of starts during Grapefruit League action and will get to showcase what they can do on the mound. Sanchez offers more electric stuff than either Hutchison or Chavez and should be able to win the last spot in rotation.

Both Sanchez and Hutchison will have to show a lot of consistency and compete, but I believe Sanchez has what it takes to get it done for the Jays in 2016. Hutchison could find what made him successful in the past and beat out Sanchez, but at least for now, it would appear the fifth starter job is Sanchez’s to lose.

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Who do you think should be the Blue Jays’ fifth starter this season and why? Let us know in the comments section below.