Sanchez could return to rotation for playoffs

Sanchez could return to rotation for playoffs

TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez's role continues to be a hot topic in Toronto, and manager John Gibbons once again addressed the young starter prior to Saturday's 9-1 win over the Orioles.

Sanchez will pass his career-high innings threshold after his start on Sunday against Baltimore, and although no set date has been placed, is expected to shift to the bullpen for the stretch run of the season.

Gibbons confirmed the Blue Jays have discussed a number of scenario's regarding the 24-year-old right-hander, including moving him from a bullpen to starting role should Toronto earn its second consecutive postseason berth.

"We've talked about that," Gibbons said about the idea. "You could probably try. It might be kind of difficult. In Sanchez's case, there's no telling how many innings he logs down [in the bullpen].

"It's one of those deals where nobody wants to [send Sanchez to the bullpen], but it's probably going to happen for his own good. He's going to make our bullpen better, too. You've got to have a strong one. But I don't know. That might be kind of difficult to get him cranked up again. But we've talked about everything. If we do this or do that, to try and maximize who he is."

Sanchez, a 2016 All-Star, is at 132 1/3 innings this season, one frame shy of the amount he threw across the Majors and Minors in 2014. The Barstow, Calif. native is 11-1 on the season and leads the American League with a 2.72 ERA.

While the Blue Jays reportedly remain active in trade rumors to add depth to their rotation, their starters as a whole have put up an AL-leading 65 quality starts this season and enter Saturday leading the Majors with 651 innings. Gibbons said on Saturday that the Blue Jays are confident in the strength of the starting staff as a unit, and the team is comfortable heading into a potential postseason run without Sanchez in the rotation.

"If you think about it -- first things first -- you've got to get there," Gibbons said. "But you never get there if you're a one-man show, either. You've got to have three or four guys who are doing a good job and a couple of them who are doing a great job. We think we can do that. We shall see."

Starting Upton here

Newly acquired Blue Jays outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. got the nod in right field on Saturday, with Jose Bautista shifting over to designated hitter. According to FanGraphs, Upton has saved eight defensive runs this season, but those numbers have been primarily as an everyday left fielder with the Padres. Saturday's contest will be Upton Jr.'s second career game in right field.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.