Toronto Blue Jays need healthy and confident Aaron Sanchez

Aaron Sanchez #41 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the first inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Aaron Sanchez #41 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the first inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

After spending the past two seasons dealing with injuries, Aaron Sanchez is looking to prove he can be a reliable contributor for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Whenever the Toronto Blue Jays lost Aaron Sanchez to a finger injury they would try to “get by”, but it was a struggle and the trickle-down effect led to two miserable seasons in 2017 and 2018. Now, the 26-year-old will need to prove he can physically and mentally provide what the team has been missing the past two years.

After moving to the starting rotation on a full-time basis in 2016, Sanchez was dominant with a 15-2 record to go along with a 3.00 ERA and 161 strikeouts, putting him in the CY Young conversation. With him and Marcus Stroman as the one-two punch of the rotation, it appeared the Blue Jays were in a good spot but there now lies a lot of uncertainty.

This is why the stories being written about Sanchez in his first bullpen session in Dunedin should be encouraging right now. As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet writes, Sanchez is focusing on improving his delivery that was compensating for his blister/finger issues.

"“I’m happy to see where I’m at with everything, my hand is probably the strongest it’s been ever, in a sense. I’m not going to say I’m going to use it any certain way or any certain count but I’m going to read the game and I want it to be a weapon just like my heater, just like my curveball. However that plays out, the game and situations will dictate that,” Sanchez told Davidi."

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo believes what will help Sanchez get back to being a dominant pitcher is getting the velocity back in his fastball and sinker, which are his most dominant pitchers.

"“Of course, if you get the good curveball and the change-up, that helps,” Montoyo told reporters. “But to me, he used to be 97, 98. Last year he was throwing 90, 92. That’s a big difference. From what we saw today, he’s going to get back to 97. That’s good.”"

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If Sanchez does turn the corner and prove he’s the pitcher we all know he can be, then the Blue Jays will have to eventually make a decision on where his future lies. With two years of team control left before he hits free agency, Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins need to decide what the plan is going to be with their ace.

Despite the numerous changes that have been made the past couple of years, it is tough to see the organization moving off of Sanchez. However, there will be several factors that will impact the decision.

The obvious one is what Sanchez is looking for in his next contract, because agent Scott Boras is going to make it a tough negotiation if the California native gets back on track. Hopefully, the only thing that should be on Sanchez’s mind is pitching more than the combined 141 innings he had over the past couple of seasons.

Hopefully, with an improved mindset and confidence that his hand is back to where it wants to be, Sanchez can provide a glimmer of hope for an improved year. It probably won’t be enough to get the team in the postseason, but it would be a step in the right direction.

Next. Just ignore Ross Atkins’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr comments. dark

What are your expectations for Sanchez this season? Do you think he can get back to being the ace of the Blue Jays’ staff? Let us know in the comments below.