As the 2019 NLDS shifted gears to the nation’s capital, the biggest question mark was which pitcher the Nationals would start against the Dodgers in Game 3.
Manager Dave Martinez certainly took his time weighing his options. Nevertheless, the skipper announced to the media early Sunday afternoon that he would hand the ball to veteran righty Anibal Sanchez.
Game 3 about the closest thing to a must-win for the Dodgers without being an elimination game.
By awarding the start to Sanchez on Sunday, the Washington rotation sets up with staff ace Max Scherzer throwing Game 4 on Monday, also in Washington. What’s more, the move could conceivably allow the Nats to counter with Stephen Strasburg should there be a need for a Game 5 in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old Sanchez has a full repertoire of pitches, as is the case with most veterans his age. He mixes a four-seam, a change, a cutter/slider, a curve and occasionally, a sinker.
According to Brooks Baseball, his heater sits around 91 MPH, topping out at around 93 MPH. His four-seam and change are his most used offerings. His cutter is decent, as it has very strong movement and excellent rise action, resulting in more fly balls compared to most pitchers. At best, the remainder of his arsenal is average with few remarkable qualities.
After dealing with hamstring issues during the early stages of 2019, Sanchez eventually rebounded and slotted in consistently as Washington’s fourth starter. For the entirety of the regular season, he tallied an 11-8 record with a 3.85 ERA and a 4.44 FIP with 134 walks in 30 starts over an even 166 innings. He walked 58 batters this year.
In seven career postseason starts with the Tigers and the Braves, Sanchez has a 2-5 record with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.177 WHIP.
Lifetime against the Dodgers, the native of Venezuela has made nine starts, posting a 1-2 record with a 3.53 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 51 innings.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is still considered by some to be among the front-runners for the National League Cy Young Award, has made two career starts at Nationals Park and has surrendered just one earned run over 11-1/3 innings pitched.
Over five career starts against the Nats, Ryu has put together a 2-1 record with a 1.35 ERA and 30 punchouts over 33-1/3 innings of work.
First pitch for Game 3 is set for 7:45 PM Eastern time.