TORONTO -- The Blue Jays don't know exactly when they'll be shifting Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen, but they know exactly what they're getting every time he makes a start.Sanchez recorded his American League-leading 16th quality start on Monday evening against the Padres, throwing seven scoreless innings in Toronto's 4-2
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays don't know exactly when they'll be shifting Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen, but they know exactly what they're getting every time he makes a start.
Sanchez recorded his American League-leading 16th quality start on Monday evening against the Padres, throwing seven scoreless innings in Toronto's 4-2 victory.
The electric right-hander won his 10th consecutive decision while allowing two earned runs or fewer for the seventh straight outing.
Sanchez's task on Monday was a Padres team that came into Toronto with 243 runs scored since the start of June, second most in the National League. They mustered just three hits off the 24-year-old in his seven frames.
"He has put himself into the elite class of baseball at a young age," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Tonight, he didn't give up many hits; he gave up those infield bleeders. He has such great life on his fastball, it's tough to square him up. And he threw enough curveballs over to keep everybody honest and even some good changeups. He's really coming into his own. I think he's just scratching the surface."
"He was nasty today," added Padres outfielder Alex Dickerson, who drove in San Diego's only runs with a two-run homer off reliever Bo Schultz in the ninth. "It's probably some of the best stuff that I've personally seen at this point in my career. Real late life on the fastball, something you can't really teach. He was down in the zone all day, hitting his spots. It was a battle all day."
While Sanchez remains a work in progress in terms of his secondary stuff -- he recorded five of his seven strikeouts on Monday with his two-seam fastball -- the Barstow, Calif., native has also become increasingly efficient recording early outs to go deeper into games. Over his past four starts, Sanchez has gone seven or more innings three times while throwing fewer than 100 pitches in each of those outings.
"I'm understanding what I'm trying to do with every at-bat and with every pitch," Sanchez said. "Kind of breaking it down, it's so cliche, but people say one pitch at a time, and I've just been taking it one pitch at a time and trying to get outs early in the count."
While Sanchez's only focus right now is taking the ball every five days and going as deep as he can, he also understands the long-term approach the Blue Jays are taking. Sanchez is up to 132 1/3 Major League innings this season, just one inning off his career high across the Majors and Minors in 2014.
"I mean you've got to look long term with this," Sanchez said. "I'm not here to pitch just in 2016, I'm here to pitch five, six, seven years, however long it is. That's the situation and what's being talked about. We've got to understand what's best for me down the road. There's no perfect science to this."
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.