After starting the season (0-6) in nine outings, over which he had a 5.10 ERA, 25 walks, 61 strikeouts, and a .263/.353/.463 line against in nine starts and 42 1⁄3 innings pitched, Aníbal Sánchez turned things around, going on the Injured List for 13 days in mid-to-late May with a hamstring issue, then starting a 16-start unbeaten streak when he returned to the rotation, which stretched from May 29th to August 30th.
Over that stretch, the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran was (8-0) with the Nationals 11-5 in his outings, in which he put up a 3.21 ERA, 27 walks, 75 strikeouts, and a .225/.285/.358 line against in 92 2⁄3 IP.
Sánchez finally took an L in a rough outing against the New York Mets on September 4th, giving up eight hits, three walks, and seven runs in five innings of work in an 8-4 loss, but coming into tonight’s outing against the Philadelphia Phillies in D.C., he’d put together an impressive run of three starts in which he posted a 2.37 ERA, three walks, nine strikeouts, and a .188/.233/.362 line against in 19 IP.
Sánchez tossed three scoreless on 35 pitches to start against the Phillies last night, but Bryce Harper doubled to start the top of the fourth and scored on an RBI single by Rhys Hoskins, 1-0.
That was all the right-hander gave up through six, which he completed on an efficient 76 pitches, but his 77th pitch of the game landed in the upper deck in right, with Brad Miller launching his third home run in two days, and his 11th of the season, to put the Phillies up over the Nationals, 2-1.
Before Sánchez was officially out of the game, the Nationals took a 3-2 lead, leaving him in line for the win...
Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 90 P, 60 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
Since returning from the IL stint in May, Sánchez is now (11-2) with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts and 123 2⁄3 IP.
Sánchez was awesome,” manager Davey Martinez said of the right-hander’s outing against the Phillies after what ended up a 5-2 win.
“He kept us in the ballgame for seven innings, so that’s all you can ask.”
Sánchez generated 12 swinging strikes on the night, according to BaseballSavant.com, and got 18 called strikes, 12 with his fastball, throwing six pitches total, which ranged from 70.2 MPH to 90.9, keeping the Philly hitters off-balance throughout his seven innings of work on the mound.
“I’ve said it all along,” Martinez told reporters, “everybody talks about the big three, we have a big four. We really do.
“And I’ve said that, ever since he came back off the IL, he’s been really, really good, and today is no different.”
What’s working when Sánchez is going good on the hill? “When he’s pounding that strike zone, he’s good,” Martinez said.
“When he keeps the ball in the strike zone, he’s really effective. He can throw every pitch for strikes, you don’t know what he’s going to throw.”