Jonathan Sanchez has been a major league quality pitcher. Has been. The way his current season is going isn’t just unimpressive, it’s actually hurting the team a lot, and that needs to be fixed. Unfortunately for the Pirates, they don’t have any great candidates to fill his role at this juncture in the season. Sure, you could give Jeanmar Gomez a spot start or two, or let Phil Irwin take another chance atop the mound, but neither of those options are going to be viable long-term. While Sanchez displayed some decent stuff and control during spring training, that version of Sanchez has all but disappeared at this point in the year. His numbers so far are an 11.12 ERA, an 0-2 record, and a WHIP of 2.294. These are not the numbers of a pitcher who belongs in a major league rotation, and his numbers over the last few years (especially last season) have been nearly as abismal as his current ones.
April 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez (57) delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
If he were a young pitcher, rather than the veteran that he is, that would certainly take him out of another rotation, and would even likely earn him a DFA, to get a chance to improve more. The problem is, he’s not young, and he’s not going to improve. Sanchez has had a reasonably respectable career (ERA of 4.67, and WHIP of 1.459), but his career is pretty obviously either over, and running out of time. Right now, every time that Sanchez takes the hill, the thought that runs through my mind isn’t “I have confidence in his ability to win this game” but instead it is “I hope he gets through four innings”. When a pitcher reaches that point, he no longer deserves to be handed the ball at the beginning of a game once every five days. Sanchez has little to no control over his pitches anymore, he can’t consistently pitch a decent game, and he just can’t get hitters out anymore. If the Pirates keep him in the rotation much longer, it will not end well. I’m not sure who the Pirates should plug into the rotation in his spot, but it’s certainly shouldn’t be Sanchez right now.