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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scouting Report Anibal Sanchez

The Mets faced Sanchez on May 14 and also on June 4th; here is his detailed scouting report and an update on his season stats at the end.

The 26-year old Sanchez is in his 5th major league season with the Marlins. He was signed by the Red Sox in 2001 as an amateur free agent in Venezuela, and was traded in 2005 in the Hanley Rameriz and Josh Beckett deal. In 2006 he took the league by storm, going 10-3, with a 2.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 114 innings, including a no-hitter. Since that year, he has totaled 203 innings in the last 3+ years. He has a checkered medical history, as he had Tommy John Surgery in 2003, and two shoulder surgeries, along with two DL stints last year for a shoulder sprain. He proclaims this year that he is completely healthy. After returning from the DL last year in August, he was very good, holding batters to a .212 batting average against, and a 2.68 ERA in 50 innings. For his career, he has a 3.89 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, with average strikeout rates, but high walk rates (4.25 W/9).  Against the Mets, he is 3-4, with a 4.23 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in eight starts (two this year).

Sanchez has a fluid delivery and throws from a 3/4 arm slot. He is a four-pitch pitcher, featuring a low 90s fastball (he will add and subtract on his fastball, and throw it up and down in the zone), a plus slider (83 mph), as well as a curve-ball and an excellent change-up. He throws his fastball 52% of the time, slider 25%, while mixing in his curve and change equally (11-12%). His two best pitches are his slider and change-up, and uses his slider as his strikeout pitch.

When he faced the Mets on May 14th, he was 1-2, with a 4.08 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. He wasn't striking many hitters out (5.3 K/9), but had suffered some bad luck (.343 BAPIP). He had gone 6+ innings in five of his six starts and allowed only one home run up to that point.

Before his June 4th start, he had 10 starts and is 5-2, with a 2.89 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. He has raised his strike out per 9 to > 7, and his BAPIP has started to regress to .310 (norm is .300).  He has had a lot of success with getting hitters to swing at pitches out of the strike zone. He's won four consecutive starts, including his last outing versus the Mets when he went seven innings and allowed only six base-runners and two earned runs, while striking out seven. He hasn't let up more than two earned runs in his last eight starts. He still has only allowed one home run this year. He's gone 6+ innings in nine of his ten starts.

On June 4th, the Mets battered him around and he lasted only 5 2/3 innings, allowed 9 hits and 4 walks accounting for 4 runs, while striking out only 2. 

Update August 26th: Here is a link to an article Fangraphs had on Sanchez last week, and this sums up how he's been doing since then.
Velocity, however, isn’t the only place he’s showing improvement. Over his last five starts, Sanchez has racked up 36 strikeouts in 32 innings, giving him a 10.13 K/9 that is ninth best in baseball over the last 30 days, and puts him in a virtual tie with Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ricky Nolasco. As his stuff has ticked up, so has his ability to blow hitters away, and the version of Sanchez taking the mound for the Marlins right now is the best we’ve ever seen him.
His record sits at 10-8, with a 3.16 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. He's limited HRs this year (6 in 148 innings), and only 2 since June 27th. As Fangraphs alluded to above, over his past 7 starts (45 innings), he's allowed 10 earned runs (2.0 ERA) and 47 base-runners (1.04 WHIP), including a 1-hitter vs the Giants. He is also striking out a hitter an inning. After shutting out the Astros over seven innings on Friday night, Sanchez now has allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of his past seven starts.

He has thrown a career high in innings this year, and if he can stay healthy, he can be a linchpin for the Marlins rotation for years to come.  He isn't as good as his recent stretch, and it's only a matter of time he starts to allow more home runs, but that probably won't start tonight in Citi Field.

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