February 28, 2013; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez (36) throws a pitch in the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Sanchez makes Pirates starting rotation

Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington tends to find a lot of low-risk, high-reward type of guys during free agency and he may have found another one who can have moderate success.

After signing Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league contract in the offseason, it looks as if the former World Series champion has pitched his way onto the Pirates Opening Day roster and into the starting rotation, according to the Tribune Review’s Rob Biertempfel.

February 28, 2013; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez (36) throws a pitch in the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sanchez is coming off of a 2012 season in which he posted an MLB worst 8.07 ERA combined with Kansas City and Colorado, but the Bucs are hoping they get the Sanchez that was pretty effective in 2010 when he won 13 games and had a 3.07 ERA with the San Francisco Giants.

So far in spring training Sanchez has been very inconsistent, although he has come on strong his last couple of outings after getting off to a bad start.

In three games, Sanchez has posted a 4.73 ERA, striking out 10 in 13.1 innings pitched, while walking nine, allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs.

However, the lefty showed enough in spring training to earn a spot and a major league contract worth $1.375 million.

The 30-year old will open up the season as the Bucs No. 4 starter, which I think says a lot for the spring struggles of Kyle McPherson, who was lit up once again on Monday. If Sanchez is making the rotation, and not as the No. 5 guy, it says a lot about the Pirates other options right now.

With Jeff Karstens hurt, it likely made Sanchez a lock for the rotation, even though he probably would have made it if Karstens were healthy. But Sanchez and Karstens together don’t offer much, especially in the same rotation.

However I like the thoughts of Sanchez bouncing back a bit more than Karstens having a good year, but it turns out to be the same thing for Pirates fans- playing the if card.

If Sanchez rebounds from one of the worst seasons in MLB history, then it will be a nice story. But that is still a big if.

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