Aníbal Sánchez held the Los Angeles Dodgers to a run on four hits over five innings in Game 3 of the NLDS, and tossed 7 2⁄3 scoreless against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS, but those were his only two starts this month, and the second was back on October 11th, so when he was named the Washington Nationals’ Game 3 starter in the World Series yesterday, Davey Martinez was asked if he had any concerns about all the time off between outings.
“With him, no,” Martinez said. “He throws a lot. And like I said, he threw a sim game and got up to 80 pitches between his bullpen work and the sim game. He’s ready to go.”
In 10 games and nine starts in his postseason career, the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran now has a 2.57 ERA, 18 walks, 60 Ks, and a .197/.266/.365 line against in 56 IP, and as Martinez reiterated, he has experience in these situations that makes the Nationals comfortable he will be able to handle the long layoff between starts.
“He’s had this happen before to him and it didn’t seem to affect him,” the second-year skipper explained.
“So he gets it, he’s a professional, he kept himself ready. He’s been engaged this whole time.
“He has an unbelievable way to prepare before each game as far as [studying] hitters and what he wants to do and how he wants to attack hitters.
“As you know he’s got -- I might be short, but he probably has 27 different pitches. He’s going to probably use them all. But he competes. Like I said, just like his teammates, he goes out there and competes.”
If you want proof of Sánchez’s ability to compete at this level, you don’t need to look any further than his outing against the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, in which he took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning before finally surrendering the only hit he gave up.
“He loves -- he really loves these kind of moments,” Martinez said.
“And like I said, he’s engaged, he sits, he watches the games. He’s a student of the game when he doesn’t pitch. He’s helping other pitchers. He’s unbelievable.
“When we signed him we knew what kind of pitcher he was. Had heard glimpses of what he could be in the clubhouse and the dugout, and he’s all that and more.”
Sánchez, of course, got off to a rough start in the first year of the 2-year/$19M free agent deal he signed with the Nationals last winter, going (0-6) in his first nine starts with a 5.10 ERA, 25 walks, 41 Ks, and a .263/.353/.463 line against in 42 1⁄3 IP.
But after an IL stint for a hamstring injury, Sánchez bounced back, and went (11-2) in his final 21 outings, with a 3.42 ERA, 33 walks, 93 Ks, and .227/.282/.386 line against in 123 2⁄3 IP from late May on.
Martinez was asked if he thought that the soft-tossing veteran might be even more effective pitching after hard-throwing right-handers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
“Like I said, you look over there, you look at the lineup and they’ve got some good hitters,” he said.
“But I’ve always said this before, Sánchez is going to compete and he’s going to try to get those guys out the best he can and keep us in the ballgame.”
As for Game 4’s starter? Will it be Patrick Corbin, who came on for an inning of relief work in Game 1 on Tuesday night?
“I haven’t made a decision on Game 4,” Martinez said.
“I talked to Corbin a little bit. He’s going to go throw today and we’ll see how he feels after he plays catch.
“But like I said, these guys, they’re all in. And this is based on a conversation I have with them every day, and we’ll see how he feels after he throws.”