With Aaron Sanchez traded to the Houston Astros, the former Toronto Blue Jays starter gets a chance for a fresh start with a proven contender.
If you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan you know the frustration that Aaron Sanchez has dealt with over the last few years, blisters, freak injuries involving suitcases, the usual. The talent has always been there though.
Sanchez was a first-round pick of the Jays in 2010, and reached as high as #24 on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects list in 2013. He was also considered the #1 prospect in the Blue Jays organization. His breakout season came in 2016 when he went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 192 innings pitched on route to winning the American League ERA title.
However, that’s when things began to go downhill for Sanchez. He ended up only making 8 starts in 2017 due to reoccurring blister issues. 2018 was a bit better, as he finished the season with 105 innings pitched, but continued to deal with injury issues. The main one coming in June when he injured his finger after getting it stuck in his suitcase.
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Sanchez was traded to the Astros at the trade deadline after going 3-14 with a 6.07 ERA. This wasn’t a popular move amongst the fans though, as Sanchez was considered a fan favourite and the return was mediocre at best.
The main differences between Sanchez’s breakout 2016 season and this season come down to a few key stats. He’s walking way more batters (4.71 walks per 9 innings this season compared to 2.95 in 2016), getting fewer groundballs, and giving up more hard contact. More walks lead to more baserunners, and more hard contact leads to more home runs with runners on base.
There’s reason to believe that Sanchez could turn his season and his career around in Houston though. We’ve already seen the flashes of brilliance, it’s just a matter of putting it all together and staying healthy.
Houston is an organization that’s known for its advanced analytics and is very driven by data, particularly when it comes to spin rates. According to Baseball Savant, Sanchez has one of the best spin rates in the league on his curveball.
It’s not a coincidence that the Astros wanted him in a trade. Gerrit Cole has flourished since going to Houston, becoming one of the best pitchers in the league and improving his spin rate in the process.
He certainly fits the mold of the type of pitcher the Houston Astros love, and if he can get the walks under control don’t be surprised to see Aaron competing for another ERA title sooner rather than later.
*Editor note: This story was written before Sanchez threw a no-hitter through six innings n his debut with Houston.*
Do you think Sanchez can turn his career around with the Astros? What do you think he needs to do to return to his dominant form? Let us know in the comments below.