In 2006, Anibal Sanchez burst on the scene as a 22-year-old, throwing a no-hitter and posting a 2.83 ERA in his rookie season, though his xFIP was two runs higher than his ERA. He never really had the chance to regress, though, as he went down with a shoulder strain in 2007 that was eventually revealed to be a torn labrum. Surgery and recurrences of arm problems knocked him out for most of the 2008 and the first half of the 2009 season, though he pitched pretty decently to finish the season.
This year, Sanchez came into camp 30 pounds lighter and determined to stay healthy. His first six starts were pretty mediocre, however, as he continued to struggle with his command and was only running a 5.35 K/9.
But as the season has gone on, Sanchez has only gotten stronger, as you can see in his velocity chart below.
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.
Josh Johnson generates most of the headlines, but he’s got some pretty good company in that Florida rotation. A healthy Sanchez, and one with a fastball that is trending up, is a nice addition to the Marlins core.