By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
In the 2017 season, there were many reasons that the Blue Jays finished with a 76-86 record. Jose Bautista's decline in performance, injuries to Troy Tulowitzki, Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson and the inability of their replacements to perform even close to the same standards. However, arguably the biggest reason why the Blue Jays struggled in 2017 was probably the fact that Aaron Sanchez wasn't able to pitch with regularity.
Sanchez, 25, came off his outstanding 2016 All-Star season in which he led the AL in ERA (3.00) and pitched a career-high 192 innings. Many pundits were worried that the increased strain on his arm (up from 92 1/3 innings in 2015) would put him at risk for injury in 2017 but it was a different type of injury problem that arose to steal his season from him.
Many different players began to complain of a change to MLB's official baseball, citing an increased number of pitchers losing time due to blisters. For Sanchez, the problem came round early. After a strong start, allowing one run over seven innings on April 8, he struggled in his second, coming out of the game in the sixth after giving up five runs and went on the DL for the first time this season. He threw one inning in his comeback on April 30 and went back on the DL for two more weeks. He pitched in two games in that return, giving up an unearned run in his first outing and three runs in six innings in his second.
Then it was back on the DL. Sanchez had a piece of his fingernail removed but, when he returned, he still developed blisters and after three starts in July, he was shelved for the season as his rehab was delayed by a strained ligament in his finger that he developed while on the DL.
Sanchez was particularly hard hit by the blister issue but even teammate Marcus Stroman felt the problem (despite not missing any time). Stroman was much more outspoken about what he perceived as a problem with the baseballs.
Overall, it was a lost season for Sanchez who made just eight starts with a 4.25 ERA and 1.72 WHP, striking out 24 but walking 20 in 36 innings. The inability to properly throw his curveball due to the blisters hampered the starts he could make.
Sanchez is hoping to have the blister issues figured out and has resumed throwing after letting the ligament strain heal. It was a disappointing year in 2017 for Sanchez and for the Blue Jays to compete in 2018, he's going to be one of the most important pitchers on the club that can take the team from being an afterthought to a wild card berth.
Sanchez signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays for $2.7 million in his first year of eligibility for arbitration. The figure was quite a bit more than what MLB Trade Rumors had predicted that Sanchez would get ($1.9 million) but there are some complicated reasons that are believed to be behind the club's "generosity." Sanchez has just over three years of MLB service time, giving him three more years of club control.
2017 Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: C
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!