Aníbal Sánchez made his debut in a Nationals uniform last week, after the 35-year-old, 13-year veteran signed a 2-year/$19M free agent deal with Washington this winter. Sánchez tossed two scoreless and hitless with a walk and a K in his initial outing of 2019.
He told the reporters in West Palm Beach that he felt good on the mound.
“I’ve got good command,” Sánchez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “I’ve been working on that for the whole spring training, and I put it together today in the game, and I’m glad that everything’s coming out good.”
It’s also, he explained, all coming out of the same arm slot, which makes it especially tough for opposing hitters to determine what’s headed for them when the right-hander is dealing.
“You’ve got to go up there, and all of a sudden you’re looking for a fastball and you think it’s 1-0, and then he throws you a changeup,” second-year Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said.
“Or he can throw you a cutter. Nothing’s ever straight.”
Sánchez worked with Kurt Suzuki in that outing, reuniting with the catcher who was behind the plate last season when both were with Atlanta and the starter enjoyed success after he struggled over the previous few seasons. Will that be the way it goes in the regular season?
Martinez is going to have to find a way to get both of his catchers time in the lineup. Will he keep Sánchez and Suzuki together? Chances are they’ll stick with the tandem if it continues to work, but the starter is matched up with catcher Yan Gomes this afternoon as Martinez is making sure all the pitchers get to know their new backstops.
Here’s the Nationals’ lineup for today’s game, which is available via radio only on MLB’s At Bat App: