Five things we learned Monday: Aaron Sanchez reaching innings limit?

2:19 AM ET

The Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, Chris Sale apologized to the fans and … wait, quick comment here. While his reaction in reportedly cutting up the uniforms was childish, doesn’t he sort have a point about teams emphasizing jersey sales over winning? If he’s uncomfortable wearing the 1976 collared throwbacks, then maybe it will affect his performance. Plus, the collars are stupid. Maybe they were OK in 1896, but they were dumb in 1976 and they’re dumb in 2016. Those are not throwbacks to be celebrated.

Our top five other things for Monday:

1. Toronto Blue Jays facing conundrum with Aaron Sanchez. The right-hander was terrific once again, tossing seven scoreless innings in the Blue Jays’ 4-2 win over the Padres, lowering his ERA to 2.72. Over his past seven starts he has a 1.53 ERA, has allowed just two home runs and hasn’t lost in his past 16 starts. Here’s a fun stat via research by Mackenzie Kraemer of ESPN Stats Information: In the wild-card era (since 1995), the only qualified AL starter who had a lower ERA in his age-23 or younger season was Felix Hernandez, who had a 2.49 ERA in 2009. (Sanchez turned 24 on July 1, but this qualifies as his age-23 season.)

So here’s the issue: When Sanchez made the Toronto rotation out of spring training, the original plan was eventually move him to the bullpen since his career high in innings as a professional is 133frac13; in 2014. Last season, he threw just 102 innings between the majors and minors plus seven more in the postseason. After Monday’s game, he’s at 132frac13; innings. In June, manager John Gibbons was still saying of a move to the bullpen that “It’s going to happen.”

After his previous outing, however, Gibbons started hedging a bit, saying “You watch everything [Sanchez is] doing, you almost think [it’s] crazy to move him out of there. He’s a young kid, he is strong. He is the guy, really, that I would view out of all the guys out there he’d hold up probably more than any of them.” In other words: What, are you kidding me, the kid hasn’t lost in 16 starts and you want me to move him to the bullpen?

As Mackenzie pointed out, the Blue Jays have struggled in the seventh and eighth innings, with a 4.41 ERA in those frames entering Monday that ranked 22nd in the majors. So Sanchez would help there while ensuring he won’t go as far beyond his previous high in innings, which some think increases injury risk. There’s also anecdotal evidence that moving a pitcher back and forth between starting and relieving isn’t good for his long-term health either — think of Neftali Feliz and Joba Chamberlain.

I guess the bottom line is that you can’t predict pitcher injuries; this is big-boy baseball and the goal is to win, a goal that comes with risk. Sanchez is 24, so he’s older than some others in his position, such as 19-year-old Julio Urias of the Dodgers. With the Blue Jays trailing the Orioles and Red Sox in the AL East, they’re going to need Sanchez, and he’s of more value in the rotation than the bullpen. I’d monitor him closely, take him out early when you can or give him an extra day of rest here and there, but I’d keep him in the rotation and try and find bullpen help via trade.

2. Adrian Beltre is awesome! But you knew that. He became the oldest player in Texas Rangers history with a walk-off home run, a two-run shot with two outs off Ryan Madson that gave the slumping Rangers a much-needed 7-6 victory.

3. Michael Pineda spoils Alex Bregman‘s debut. That’s back-to-back gems for Pineda, who helped the Yankees beat the Astros 2-1. If you can figure this guy out, let me know. He has 135 K’s in 113frac13; innings and doesn’t walk too many guys, but gives up a lot of hits and home runs. If he gets on a roll, which he’s capable of doing, maybe the Yankees claw back into this wild-card race (they’re 4.5 games behind the Blue Jays). Anyway, Bregman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts but made two outstanding plays at third base, including this one:

4. Cubs lose another Jake Arrieta start. And, no, it’s not just because of poor run support, as the Cubs lost 5-4. And, going back further, the Cubs have lost five of his past starts, during which Arrieta has a 5.50 ERA and has allowed 35 hits and 15 walks in 34frac13; innings. Even by the low bar of a quality starts, he has just one in his past six, and that came in against the Mets in his first start after the All-Star break after 10 days of rest. The Cubs need ace Arrieta to find his groove again.

As for the White Sox, it was their third straight walk-off win (I guess Sale’s outburst on Saturday actually brought the team together instead of, umm, ripping it apart):

(Tip of the cap as well to Melky Cabrera for robbing Kris Bryant of a home run earlier in the game.)

5. The Drew Pomeranz trade was the worst trade ever! I kid, Red Sox fans, I kid. Pomeranz was actually pretty solid, but Justin Verlander was a little better and the Boston bullpen gave up two runs as the Tigers won 4-2. By the way, have you noticed that Verlander’s numbers don’t look too different from peak Verlander? His K rate is 25.7 percent compared to 25.8 in 2011 and 25.0 in 2012. His walk rate is a little higher as is his home run rate (to be expected given the overall increase in home runs) and his 3.64 ERA doesn’t compare to the 2.40 mark he put up in his MVP/Cy Young season in 2011, but he’s back to being one of the better starters in the AL.

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