Has two straight strong starts led to Jonathan Sanchez emerging as a strong contender to open the season in Pittsburgh?

That’s the buzz in Pirate circles this week.
Sanchez who walked seven batters and posted a 13.50 ERA in his first three spring training games, has steadily shown improvement with his command over his last two starts and has pitched 8 shutout innings during that span, sparking speculation of the Pirates keeping him to open the season.
Sanchez overall, is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA and 10 strikeouts, 9 walks. Sanchez has walked just two batters in his last 10 innings pitched. He had walked seven in his previous 3 1/3 innings.
Sanchez can ask for a release on Sunday and the Pirates have to make a decision on him by Tuesday. Sanchez is said to have no interest in pitching in the bullpen.
One reason Sanchez might get an opportunity to open the season in Pittsburgh is injuries. Franciso Liriano is still three to four weeks away, Jeff Karstens has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit league game and the Pirates coaching staff has soured on young starter Kyle McPherson.
The Pirates don’t need a fifth starter until April 7th which helps Karstens cause in getting ready for the season.