Atkins: Blue Jays not planning innings limit for Sanchez in 2017

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez (Peter Power/CP)

One of the most positive storylines to emerge during the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2016 season was the breakout of Aaron Sanchez. The Blue Jays monitored his usage carefully during his first full season as a starter, but that’s not something GM Ross Atkins expects to have to do to the same extent in 2017.

When asked Tuesday if there will be an innings limit for Sanchez next year, Atkins said: “No, I don’t expect there to be.”

The former reliever transformed into one of the most dominant starters in baseball, going 15-2 in 30 starts and leading the American League with a 3.00 ERA.

“The work of Aaron Sanchez to make every start that we asked him to make was incredible, it was remarkable, it was unexpected,” Atkins told Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “His ability to maintain range of motion, his ability to maintain strength, to handle his recovery as well as he did – and every time we asked him to take the ball he was ready – for where he is in his career and what he did prior is remarkable.”

The Blue Jays elected to watch Sanchez’s innings carefully in 2016, creating a recurring and somewhat divisive storyline. The 24-year-old was even briefly sent to the minors in August to have him skip a start and limit his innings when the team implemented a six-man rotation after acquiring veteran lefty Francisco Liriano from the Pirates.

Atkins mentioned team management and training staff would monitor Sanchez’s workload in the off-season, as they do with all of their pitchers.

“We have to factor in that this was a longer season from a starting standpoint than he was accustomed to but honestly I feel that puts us in a better situation than he was in coming into this year,” Atkins added.

Sanchez pitched a total of 192 innings in the regular season and an additional 11.2 innings in the playoffs, surpassing 200 in total.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.