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The Season That Was: Aaron Sanchez

A look at Aaron’s 2018 season.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Sanchez has had an interesting couple of years.

2016: Aaron broke through as a starter, after bouncing back and forth from starting to relieving the year before. He made 30 starts, led the AL with a 3.00 ERA. It looked like we had an ace. Or at least co-ace. His future looked bright.

2017: Was a mess. He made just 8 starts. Pitched all of 36 innings. Spent most of the year recovering from blisters. Or recovering from attempted cures for blisters. He had a rough time.

This year, I was hoping he would be healthy and would build back towards becoming the pitch we saw in 2016. I wasn’t expecting the perfect season, since he pretty much missed all of the year before, but I helped he would establish himself as a guy who could be expected to pitch 30 starts a year and eat innings.

It didn’t happen:

Standard Pitching
4 6 4.89 20 20 0 105.0 106 57 11 58 86 7 4 86 4.74 5.0 7.4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/9/2018.

Baseball Reference has him at a 0.8 WAR. FanGraphs at 0.7, giving him a value of $5.4 million to the Blue Jays.

His FIP (4.74) and xFIP (4.98) were right in line with his ERA. Batters had a .304 BABIP against him. In 2016 it was .267.

Compared to 2016 Aaron’s strikeout rate was down (18.1%, down from 20.4) and his walk rate was up (12.2%, from 8.0).

Comparing to his good 2016 season his line drive rate was down (19.3%, from 20.5), ground ball rate down (49.1%, from 54.4) and fly ball rate up (31.7%, from 25.1). Fly balls left the part at about the same rate (10.8% from 10.7).

Aaron’s hard contact rate was up a bit (33.4%, from 30.3), but soft contact was also up (33.4%, from 30.3).

He had a much harder time with LHB (.288/.407/.470) than RHB (.237/.313/.348). In his good season the splits were much closer.

His ERA was better at home, but batters hit him better at home (4.83, batters hit .269/.368/.420) than on the road (4.94, batters hit .269/.368/.420).

Aaron was better in the first half (4.52, batters hit .246/.352/.387) than in the second half (6.04, .310/.388/.470).

Sanchez by month:

  • April: 2-2, 4.06, batters hit .239/.352/.399 in 6 starts.
  • May: 0-3, 5.96, batters hit .277/.3818436 in 5 starts.
  • June: 1-0, 3.72, batters hit .219/.313/.301 in 4 starts.
  • August: 0-0, 11.88, batters hit .450/.500/.575 in 2 starts.
  • Sept: 1-1, 3.18, batters hit .217/.314/.400 in 3 starts.

He never got on a roll and, when it seemed like he was about to, he was hurt. He really doesn’t need to get a run of 20 starts in a row and remember how he pitched when things were good.

The Blue Jays were 10-10 in his starts.

His best start, by GameScore, was April 10th, his third start of the season, in Baltimore. He went 9 innings, allowed 3 hits, 1 earned, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts and 1 hit batter. He also had a 70 in Boston. 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts.

Worst game? A 18, at home, against the Phillies. 4 innings, 10 hits, 6 earned, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.

He averaged 5.25 innings per start.

On the list of stupid injuries, jamming your finger on a suitcase must be high on the list, but then I’ve done much the same before. Of course, I didn’t end up needing surgery. I’m hoping he’ll be 100% for spring training.

The average speed on his fastball was down a bit, 94.3, from 95.6 last year. I don’t know if there was a reason for the drop or if it just happened. And I don’t know if it caused the drop in performance.

Next year is a pretty important one for Aaron. It would be good for him to show that he can be an effective starter.

The good news is he hasn’t had a lot of wear and tear on his arm. If he can get past all this stuff, his arm should age well.

He’s still just 26, just 15 months old than Ryan Borucki, but it seems like he should be older. We’ve been talking about him quite awhile now. It does take some guys longer than others to settle in. Happ and Estrada weren’t full-time starters until age 31. I’m hoping it doesn’t take Aaron that long but I’m not ready to give up on him.

When he’s good, he’s very good, we just need him to be consistently good.

The start in Baltimore, mentioned above, Aaron had a no hitter going into the 8th inning. It might not be very exciting, but here’s a double play he induced: