Dingerball

Aaron Sanchez will be a Cy Young contender

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I know that I’m not the first person to jump on the Aaron Sanchez train but I want to be one the one who leads that train. Everyone knows that the Astros are one of the smartest teams in baseball and that they have been reinventing pitchers at an alarming rate. I’ll list a few names just to help you get a perspective as to how many times the Astros have done this: Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Collin McHugh, and Charlie Morton. There are more success stories than just those five but those five highlight what the Astros are capable of when it comes to recreating pitchers. We also have to take into account the pitchers that they have produced themselves. Pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. wouldn’t have been as dominant if they had been drafted by someone else.

Aaron Sanchez and Zack Greinke will be the newest additions to Houston’s long list of success stories even though Greinke is already one of the most effective pitchers in the league. Greinke is already performing at his highest capability but I do believe that his numbers will increase slightly during his time in Houston. I mean what more can you expect out of a guy with a 3.30 FIP on the season in addition to a 3.7 WAR?

It’s Aaron Sanchez that will end up being the more interesting part of that trade and potentially the better pitcher as well. The Astros have already made an impact on his performance as he has only allowed 1 run over 11 innings so far for the Astros. Including five no-hit innings that he threw as a part of a combined no-hitter in his Astros debut.

Those 11 innings are a small sample size but there is more proof as to why Aaron Sanchez is going to be dominant for the Astros. The reason behind his success will be the change in pitch%, specifically his fastball and curveball. Take a look below at his current pitch% chart and take notice of the changes between 2018 and 2019.

Between last season and this season, Aaron has increased his fastball and curveball usage. These are the changes that Houston has made to the pitchers that they acquired over the past several years. The most prominent examples of pitchers that also underwent this change are Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole. Take a look below and you can see that they made that exact change in their pitch%. Each pitcher increased their fastball and curveball usage.

Charlie Morton was acquired by the Astros in 2017. It is at that point in the chart where his curveball and his fastball see a significant jump in usage. As for Cole, he was acquired by the Astros in 2018. It is at that point where his fastball and curveball both jump up in usage.

The story writes itself in that Aaron Sanchez is next in line to be another Astros success story. He too is making these changes and is showing us just how good he can be. In his first start in Houston, he threw his curveball 30.4% of the time which is almost 8% more than his listed usage of his curveball in 2019. As for his second start in Houston, he threw his curveball 27.8% of the time which is over a 5% jump from his listed curveball usage in 2019.

His fastball usage has varied over his two starts. In his first start he only used it 32.6% of this time which is almost an entire 4% lower than this season’s total usage. However, for his second start, he used it 40% of the time, which is 3.6% more than his listed season usage.

The reason for this variation is most likely based upon who Sanchez is facing. Depending on the opposing team’s performance, Sanchez probably varies how often he uses his fastball and his sinker. In each of the two starts if there is a higher fastball usage than there is a lower sinker usage. Just as if there is a lower fastball usage compared to the other start there will be a higher sinker usage compared to the other start.

The newest Astros product is here and they have him on their roster for not only this year but for 2020 as well. He is going to be an extremely valuable asset for Houston over that time and if it weren’t for the other three aces already in their rotation I would’ve chosen him to be their ace. Regardless, he is going to be one of the best pitches in baseball over the time that he spends in Houston as he will be just another success story in Houston’s long list of accomplishments.

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