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What does the future hold for Aníbal Sánchez?

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Will Aníbal Sánchez be back in the nation’s capital in 2021?

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Aníbal Sánchez failed to make it out of the third when he faced the New York Mets back on August 12th in Citi Field, where the 36-year-old, 15-year veteran gave up six hits, two walks, and five earned runs in a 71-pitch appearance.

“I don’t know exactly the answer,” Sánchez said when asked what was going wrong after his third straight loss to start the season in that outing.

“I don’t have it right now. I just know that I have to work better when I’m on the mound, something that I have to figure it out. It’s frustrating when you’re working hard and the results are not there.

“But it’s not the end of the world, it’s not the end of the season either, I need to prepare better for my next outing.”

In seven starts before going up against the Mets again last night, Sánchez was up and down on the mound, with a 5.71 ERA, 11 walks, 27 Ks, and a .308/.365/.462 line against in 34 23 IP, with his last outing before last night a solid five-inning start against the Philadelphia Phillies, in which he gave up five hits, four walks, and one earned run, while throwing 105 pitches.

Sánchez said he was focused in that outing on finding a rhythm on the mound and keeping it going.

“Today I’m trying to — as soon as I take the ball out of the glove, just throw to the target,” Sánchez explained.

“Don’t think too much or don’t make any kind of pause during the mechanics, because that’s when trying to locate the ball, that’s when it’s easier for the hitter to recognize the pitch. But when I feel good, when I’m trying to just get the ball out of glove and throw the ball to my target, when I’m able to do that, the hitter can’t recognize if I throw any kind of fastball, changeup, or curveball. Like today, I threw a couple of curveballs, today it was really good.”

Sánchez tossed three scoreless to start the nightcap of the Nationals’ doubleheader with the Mets in the nation’s capital, on 39 pitches, but he took the mound in the top of the fourth with a 5-0 lead, and gave up a one-out double by Robinson Canó, and a two-run home run on a first-pitch fastball to Pete Alonso, who hit a line drive into the left field bullpen in Nationals Park, 5-2.

After retiring the Mets in order in a quick, six-pitch fifth, Sánchez returned to the mound in the sixth and gave up a leadoff walk and one-out single before he was lifted...

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 80 P, 50 S, 8/5 GO/FO.

Will last night’s outing be Sánchez’s final start with the Nationals? He signed a 2-year/$19M before the 2019 campaign that includes a $12M club option for 2021, (or $2M buyout). Did he show enough when he was good this season to earn another opportunity?

“You saw how he pitched the last couple outings. I still think he has stuff left in the tank,” Manager Davey Martinez said after a 5-3 win in the nightcap.

“Today he was throwing 92, but he had a great outing, and that’s awesome to see him go out there his last start and do what he did today.

“Who knows what’s going to happen in the future. I love him to death.”

“I love him,” Martinez reiterated.

“Like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I know he can still pitch.

“And I told him that today, I said, ‘You still got a lot left in the tank, so just get after it this winter and we’ll see where it’s at.”

“Right now I feel really good,” the 36-year-old, 15-year veteran said after his final outing of the 2020 campaign.

“I would like the season to keep going. I think this is the moment I started feeling good and in control of the game.

“Unfortunately we got just 60 games ... right now I feel really good. Like I say, I like to finish strong, that’s my mentality in every season that I played. I showed today that I can still get control of the game.”

Sánchez agreed with his manager’s assessment that he has something left in the tank.

“I feel really good. I don’t feel like I’m tired of this game. I think every year, I feel more love for this game for what I’ve been doing for many years. And I think I feel that I’m still able to compete at this level.”

As he walked off the mound in D.C. for what could be the last time as a Nationals’ starter, what was he thinking?

“A lot of thoughts passed through my mind. Just thinking how this could be my last outing with this team or if I got another year with this team. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that, but I feel, right now, really grateful for this team and the whole organization, but it is a team that I want to continue with.”