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Sanchez Becoming 2nd Ace?


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On Saturday afternoon, the Florida Marlins’ Anibal Sanchez dominated the Washington Nationals, throwing eight shutout innings. In his last two starts (both, as it happens, against Washington), Sanchez has thrown 15 innings without permitting a run, giving up just five hits and two walks while striking out 20, dropping his ERA to 2.90. His FIP (fielding independent pitching, an approximation of what his ERA “should� be attempting to remove luck and defense from the equation) during those two starts is approximately 0.93.

 

If you had to guess who on the current Marlins roster could produce such a dominant number, it’d probably be Josh Johnson. Which, given his league-leading 1.63 ERA (and his league-leading 2.30 ERA in 2010), is perfectly understandable. But Sanchez, so far in 2011, has been almost as good as Johnson. He’s gotten a few more strikeouts, permitted a few more walks, and has given up two more homers.

Johnson has been a better pitcher than Sanchez, but Johnson has been a better pitcher than almost everybody. While Sanchez has had a few off outings -- he gave up 13 hits to the Astros on April 10, and walked six Cardinals on May 3 -- his overall performance so far suggests that, at just 27 and coming off the first injury-free season of his career, Sanchez might be developing into a No. 1-A to Johnson’s No. 1.

 

Sanchez was good enough in 2010 (with a 3.55 ERA and 118 ERA+ in 195 innings), but he appears to have taken another large step forward this year. The biggest difference is the strikeouts. His 9.4 strikeouts per nine thus far in 2011 has beat his previous, relatively pedestrian career mark by 2.5 strikeouts, and his 2010 mark by more than two. According to Fangraphs, entering Saturday night’s start, Sanchez’s fastball was up nearly half a mile per hour from last year, his slider was up more than one and a half, and his curve was down just a tick, all good things for making a pitcher less hittable. Over on Fangraphs, following his last start, Eno Sarris gave some additional good reasons to believe the jump in strikeouts was real.

 

Sanchez has now had eight starts in 2011, and has racked up at least as many strikeouts as innings pitched in five of them (with two very off starts and one where he managed four strikeouts in five innings). It’s not just a matter of one or two good games, or of dominating one or two bad teams -- Sanchez has, so far, been a different, better pitcher. He has managed many more strikeouts than he ever had while keeping his walks down at roughly his 2010 level, which is basically the perfect recipe for becoming a star.

 

And here’s something scary: with Ricky Nolasco(last seen holding the Phillies to just one earned run in 6.1 innings on Wednesday), the Marlins essentially have two Anibal Sanchezes. Nolasco has been a favorite of the sabermetrically-inclined for several years now, putting up impressive FIPs of 3.35 and 3.86 in 2009 and 2010 while being saddled with ugly ERAs of 5.06 and 4.51. After two seasons like that, you might start to think that Nolasco wasn’t just unlucky, but is one of those rare players that seems to confound the metrics, actually pitching less effectively than the metrics suggest. So far in 2011, though, he’s been almost exactly the pitcher the advanced metrics have expected him to be. He’s averaging almost seven and a half strikeouts per nine (which is a bit low for him, but he’s at roughly one K per inning over his last six starts), and walking just one and a half per nine, and it’s resulted in a 3.02 ERA (3.33 FIP) in his first 53.2 innings.

 

It’s a bit hard to take the Marlins seriously, as a general matter. Their payroll always seems to hover around Alex Rodriguez's annual salary, and this offseason, they traded away their second-best position player and their starting center fielder for almost nothing in return. But with Johnson, Sanchez and Nolasco, they have what appears to be developing into one of the most dominant rotations (or top threes, anyway) in baseball. With Hanley Ramirez(who should start hitting like Hanley again eventually), Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison andMike Stanton, there seems to be more than enough offense there to win.

 

If you’re not already thinking of the 23-15 Marlins as contenders in the NL East and the wild card race, I think it’s time to start.

 

 

Halfway there to the Phillies.

 

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/10897/sanchez-becoming-marlins-second-ace

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they traded away their second-best position player :lol and their starting center fielder :lol for almost nothing in return.

 

Yup, Infante, Dunn, Webb and Mujica are "almost nothing."

 

Nobody said ESPN writers were smart.

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they traded away their second-best position player :lol and their starting center fielder :lol for almost nothing in return.

 

Yup, Infante, Dunn, Webb and Mujica are "almost nothing."

 

Nobody said ESPN writers were smart.

 

Typical ESPN when it comes to the Marlins, always a dig, always a slight, always just plain stupid ignorance. When Gammonds left

that was the end of this team ever getting straight and fair coverage without the BS.

 

It's going to be a hoot when ESPN and Fox, and their play by play guys who never see us and know virtually nothing about our team other than having heard about Hanley and this dude, JJ

have to start learning about us when, come playoff time, they'll have to be calling our games.

 

It'll be sweet.

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yea what i find most interesting is the improvement in anibal's fastball. back in 06 he would be able to throw 94-95 on occasion when he needed it but generally sat at around 90-92.

 

it all started in that start at philadelphia where he just randomly started throwing 93-95 and his fastball just looked so crisp. no idea how or why it happened but seems like everyone noticed it.

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Anibal is an animal. I always knew he was capable of being an ace, but he just needed to recover from the surgery enough to regain his control. Dude has 4 pitches he can throw for strikes. And all of them are above average. That's legit.

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ESPN would love for this franchise to fall off a cliff.

 

Nothing they hate more than a low budget team whooping up on their beloved superpowers.

 

ESPN's motto when talking about the Fish: For every positive mentioned, follow with 3 negatives.

 

 

There will soon be a day that they wont be able to say that.

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Personally I felt like Anibal surpassed Nolasco in the 2nd half of last year as our 2nd best pitcher. He's really showing it this year, while Nolasco is up and down as usual.

 

 

You're acting like Sanchez didn't have a six walk game and a 13 hit game this season. He's been as up and down as Nolasco.

 

Actually, not even. Ricky's had one start in which he has failed to go 6 innings. He went 5. Anibal has only gone 6 innings or more 4 times. He has amazing starts and 4 rather bad ones. Ricky has one bad one.

 

Perception is fun!

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Personally I felt like Anibal surpassed Nolasco in the 2nd half of last year as our 2nd best pitcher. He's really showing it this year, while Nolasco is up and down as usual.

 

 

You're acting like Sanchez didn't have a six walk game and a 13 hit game this season. He's been as up and down as Nolasco.

 

Actually, not even. Ricky's had one start in which he has failed to go 6 innings. He went 5. Anibal has only gone 6 innings or more 4 times. He has amazing starts and 4 rather bad ones. Ricky has one bad one.

 

Perception is fun!

Strangely enough, I didn't think anyone had the perception that Ani hasn't been all over the place this season.

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