Aaron Sanchez, battling a stomach bug and with his parents behind home plate, dominated the Kansas City Royals with eight innings of three hit baseball.
He was efficient. He was strategic. He shoved.
As Sanchez himself said to Sportsnet.ca last night:
Back before the season started, when Aaron Sanchez as a starting pitcher was still up for debate, I wrote that if this kid pitched to his potential in 2016, the David Price-shaped hole in the Jays rotation will be both minuscule and a hell of a lot cheaper.
I argued that Sanchez, given his talent, should be given every opportunity to succeed as a starter before they permanently stashed him in the pen- he has that much talent and he means enough to this organization to be given that much. Sanchez means a lot.
Also, look at this face!
I didn’t know for sure it would turn out this well, but this kid is something really special.
(I know Dean Blundell is kind of odious- he has unblocked me from Twitter, though, so yay? but listening to Hentgen talk about pitching is worth it. )
A few guys have taken on the mantle of ‘ace” since Roy Halladay left the Jays in 2009.
Ricky Romero- His knee was destroyed before his legacy could be established.
R.A. Dickey- Yes, he won the Cy Young. But he throws a damn knuckle ball.
David Price- He certainly has the stuff, but he was a rental. And there is also his October- when legends are made.
Marcus Stroman- who is a child
Sanchez is a child, too, but his work ethic and his talent could take him a very long way.
He talked to Baseball Central today. Sanchez talked about his start last night, about his pitches, how he built up what Pat Hentgen calls his "man body" in the offseason and how he prepares between starts.
I don't know if Sanchez is this put together, but he certainly knows how to sound like he has his head on right.
What does Aaron Sanchez need to do to take the next step?
I would suggest he needs to work on his changeup. Sanchez’s fastball is obviously his biggest weapon and a changeup- with the same arm action and delivery but with the MPH off. Kevin Barker said on the Jeff Blair Show, which Sanchez confirmed, that his changeup sits at about 88 mph. In other words, Marco Estrada’s fastball.
Now, a slow fastball is not the worst thing, but it isn't a changeup. A changeup achieves the fundamental goal of pitching: it makes hitters look dumb.
To get guys truly ahead of the pitches, the goal of the change, Sanchez needs to get his arm speed to match his hard fastball's arm speed. If a hitter is gearing up for the fastball, they just can’t hit a change.
Befuddlement in the extremely talented is funny.
Consider it levelling.
Aaron Sanchez, throwing a changeup for strikes, would basically make him unhittable.
What about the whole innings limit/bullpen discussion? It's going to be a tough decision.
As for playing the Royals themselves for the first time since the ALCS?
That's about the sum of it.
Crush. Kill. Destroy.