Date for Sanchez's transition to 'pen unknown

Date for Sanchez's transition to 'pen unknown

HOUSTON -- Aaron Sanchez is going to the bullpen, but the Blue Jays still aren't saying when that move is going to happen.

Sanchez will make at least one more start, but Toronto has yet to officially announce its plans beyond the upcoming three-game series in Kansas City. The expectation is that Sanchez will transition to the bullpen sooner rather than later, but whether that's one, two or possibly even more starts away remains uncertain.

The timing of Sanchez's next outing also appears to be up in the air. Left-hander Francisco Liriano, who was acquired from Pittsburgh prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, will make his debut on Friday or Saturday in Kansas City. Sanchez will get whichever game Liriano ends up not taking.

"We're still talking about that," manager John Gibbons said of Liriano's Blue Jays debut. "I'm sure it would be either Friday or Saturday. If we went Friday, which is his natural day, then you could go Sanchy with an extra day if we wanted. We'll know that tomorrow."

Sanchez has been one of baseball's biggest surprises this season. He has established himself as an elite pitcher, and he is 11-1 with a league-best 2.71 ERA among qualified starters as of Tuesday. He also has struck out 118 against 41 walks while posting an impressive 1.134 WHIP.

Toronto has been saying for most of the season that Sanchez would eventually end up in the bullpen because of an innings limit. Once there, general manager Ross Atkins said, he can be used like any other reliever and will be allowed to pitch on back-to-back days when the need arises.

Sanchez spent parts of each of the last two seasons in Toronto's bullpen. He'll work as a setup man for closer Roberto Osuna, and he'll bring a career 1.67 ERA as a reliever into that role.

Although the mystery over Sanchez's future job has been solved, the timing remains very much up in the air.

"We'll tell you when we know that," Gibbons said.

When asked if the decision had been made and that the club simply didn't want to announce it yet, Gibbons was even more coy.

"I don't know that either, to be honest," he said. "It's a tough decision, man."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.