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Washington Nationals name Aníbal Sánchez Game 1 starter for NLCS matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals

Aníbal Sánchez makes his second postseason start for the Nationals in the series opener with the Cardinals tonight in Busch Stadium.

Washington Nationals v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Aníbal Sánchez put together a solid start, striking out nine of the 21 batters he faced in five innings of work against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLDS, a 10-4 loss in D.C. in which he received no decision. Sánchez gave up four hits, two walks, and one run while on the mound.

Sánchez tossed four scoreless to start, working out of jam in the first after a leadoff walk, a one-out single, and a two-out free pass loaded the bases, and the one run he allowed in the outing came on a home run by Max Muncy in the top of the fifth, before he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the home half of inning.

“I feel good,” Sánchez said after the outing, when asked for his thoughts on his appearance.

“I stayed with my plan. I tried to not change anything for any situation. I was working really good with [Kurt Suzuki] today. That’s why they got the best five innings.”

Sanchez picked up 13 swinging strikes and got 15 called strikes, and he said after the outing that his changeup (with which he got 5 of his swinging strikes and 5 of 9 Ks) was particularly good.

“I think the mix that I used — my changeup today helped me to strike out guys,” Sánchez told reporters.

“I’m not going to say that I’m a strikeout pitcher. I hit the strike zone to get a quick out with very few pitches. But today was a lot of strikeouts. I think my changeup was really good today, and I used it for any reason. And also my slow changeup helped me, too. It was good today.”

That appearances left the 35-year-old righty with a 2.98 ERA in nine games, eight starts, and 48 13 postseason innings pitched over his 14-year career, in which he’s walked 17, struck out 55, and held opposing hitters to a combined .217/.282/.408 line.

Davey Martinez named Sánchez his Game 1 starter for the NLCS when the manager spoke to reporters on a conference call yesterday, a day after his club took Game 5 of the NLDS with the Dodgers to advance to the best-of-seven series with the St. Louis Cardinals which starts tonight, at 8:08 PM EDT in Busch Stadium.

Sánchez was asked if there was anything he could take from the start in the Division Series that he could apply in what will be his first start in a League Championship Series since he was part of the Detroit Tigers’ rotation in 2013.

“For me, my whole career every game is different, every situation is totally different,” Sánchez said.

“The game that I had against the Dodgers,” he continued, “I think I had a really good game plan with [Suzuki], so it’s helped a lot. But tomorrow is going to be a different day, different crowd, different team. I [haven’t done] my homework, but I start today to prepare my game for tomorrow and let’s see how my game plan for tomorrow is... and hopefully just put up a quality start for the team.”

Max Scherzer, who was teammates with Sánchez in Detroit from 2012-14, was asked earlier this week how the right-hander has changed since their time together with the Tigers.

“He’s the same guy on and off the field,” Scherzer said. “He’s such a great clubhouse guy. He has so much fun with everybody. What he can do on the mound, yeah, he’s a little bit different than when I played with him a few years ago, especially now he can cut the ball and what he can do with the location of that, that’s the biggest change in what he’s been able to do since I played with him in Detroit.

“But he’s always had the ability to be able to just change speeds on anything,” Scherzer added, “... and he can change speeds on his changeup as well as anybody in the game.

“He’s just a treat to watch because of — he’s got a high intellect, a high baseball IQ of when to mix and match all of his pitches together and when to change speeds and when not.

“So that’s the same Sanchy I’ve always played with.”