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Blue Jays keep Aaron Sanchez as starter, go to six-man rotation

The Blue Jays’ starter is a legitimate contender for the Cy Young award.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays’ best starter is to remain in the rotation according to the general manager of the team, Ross Atkins. The report—which comes from Gregor Chisholm of—also says that the Blue Jays are expecting to go with a six-man rotation.

Prior to the beginning of the season, there was conjecture over whether or not to even include Sanchez in the rotation at all or to have him remain in the bullpen. 139.1 innings later, the 24-year old right-hander has posted a 2.71 ERA and 3.34 FIP and has entered the conversation as a Cy Young contender. By FanGraphs’ WAR, Sanchez currently ranks as the sixth-best starter in the league.

With that said, it doesn’t look as if this is a permanent fix according to Atkins. Sanchez is managing his first full workload as a starter in the majors and preventing injuries is still on the agenda of many general managers. Unfortunately, the science of preventing injuries based on innings limits is relatively inconclusive as of yet, but managing a players workload and fatigue seem to be correlated with better arm health. After all, innings limits are a somewhat simplistic way to manage a player’s workload, as each inning can have a varying amount of pitches delivered, to consider just one variable that goes into ‘fatigue.’

The whole situation is somewhat similar to the 2012 handling of Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg. Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Strasburg was handed a strict 160-inning limit by the team, in hopes of preventing future injury. While that has seemed to work—at least in terms of Strasburg’s UCL—the move was met with considerable criticism. The Nationals went on to have the best record in all of baseball that season, but were dispatched in the Division Series by the Cardinals.

Moving forward then in the midst of a pennant race, the Blue Jays will include Sanchez in their rotation as well as staples Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, R.A. Dickey, and newcomer Francisco Liriano. While Sanchez’s workload will still be managed going forward, converting to a six-man rotation means roughly two fewer starts over the remainder of the season for each starter.

While Liriano has struggled with the Pirates earlier in the season, he seems to be the pitcher on the shortest leash if the six-man rotation doesn’t seem to be working. The newly acquired Mike Bolsinger seems like a legitimate candidate to take on some spot starts. If he falters as well, the Blue Jays could lean on Scott Diamond down the stretch if the necessity presents itself.