ALCS Pitching Preview: Anibal Sanchez

Thoughts following ALCS Game One
ALCS Game Two Thread: Tigers @ Yankees

While everyone was focused on Ryan Dempster and Zack Greinke at the trade deadline, the Tigers swooped in and acquired Anibal Sanchez (and Omar Infante) from the Marlins for a package of prospects headlined by right-hander Jacob Turner. It’s a pure rental since Sanchez is due to become a free agent after the season, but the still only 28-year-old right-hander is now in position to help Detroit get to the World Series.

A bit of a sabermetric darling for his work last season (3.67 ERA and 3.35 FIP), Sanchez pitched to a 3.74 ERA (3.68 FIP) in a dozen starts for the Tigers following the trade. His strikeout rate predictably dropped (no more whiffing the opposing pitcher twice a game) following the move to the AL, but he finished the season with eight dominant outings (2.15 ERA and ~2.60 FIP) before holding the Athletics to two runs in 6.1 innings in Game Three of the ALDS last week.

2012 Performance vs. Yankees

Date Tm Opp Rslt Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str
Aug 8 DET NYY L,8-12 L(6-9) 3.0 7 7 7 2 2 1 2 4.37 20 65 40
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2012.

I had completely forgotten that the Yankees faced Sanchez this season, but they did see him in his third start following the trade to the Tigers. They obviously hit him pretty hard, including a two-run first inning (run-scoring singles by Eric Chavez and Curtis Granderson) and a three-run homer by Granderson in the third. Nick Swisher ended Sanchez’s night with a single in the fourth. Eleven of he 20 men he faced in the game reached base, which is the exception and not the rule. It’s great they hammered Anibal the only time they faced him this summer, but I wouldn’t assume they have his number, not by any means. Casey McGehee starting that game for cryin’ out loud.

Pitch Selection (via Brooks Baseball)

Sanchez uses five pitches regularly and he’s very offspeed heavy, throwing his low-90s four- and two-seamers less than 50% of the time overall. Most of them come on the first pitch as well. Right-handers will see his mid-80s slider more than any of his other secondary pitches while lefties will get the full complement — mid-80s changeup, upper-70s curveball, and slider. There is a little bit of Hiroki Kuroda in Sanchez, meaning he’ll break out any one of his many pitches at any time.

Performance & Results

vs. RHB 376 0.341 3.87 19.4% 5.1% 42.2% 35.4% 22.4% 12.2%
vs. LHB 444 0.284 3.26 21.2% 6.5% 50.2% 29.2% 20.7% 9.0%

Given how he uses all of pitches against lefties, it’s not a big surprise that Sanchez has a reverse split. BABIP plays a part in that (.331 vs. .292) but it isn’t everything. The strikeout and walk rates hold steady against batters on both sides of the plate, but right-handers really hammered him whenever they did make contact. Not just homers either, he gave up a lot of doubles as well. That slider is his least effective offspeed pitch, hence all that hard contact by righties. I’m not saying the Yankees should trot out as many right-handed hitters as possible, but Russell Martin and Alex Rodriguez (if he plays) could end up playing a major role in Game Two.

Like Game One starter Doug Fister, Sanchez is pretty efficient with his pitches (3.73 pitches per batter faced), so driving up his pitch count in an effort to get to that shaky bullpen won’t be easy. Given how often he’ll throw a first pitch fastball, it might be worth it to jump on him early in the count if Anibal is consistently in the zone. Five of the seven hits he allowed to the Yankees in that August start came within the first three pitches of the at-bat, which might not be a coincidence.

Thoughts following ALCS Game One
ALCS Game Two Thread: Tigers @ Yankees
  • Eddard

    This is their worst starter. If you can’t beat him you ain’t beating any of their starters. I equate this game to WS 2009 Game 2 when AJ Burnett pitched the game of his life and single handidly saved the WS for us. Kuroda needs to do that today with help from the offense. This is their worst starter. Only hope is to win today, CC wins Game 4 and then it’s a three game series with Andy, Kuroda and CC lined up to save the season.

  • TomH

    …and he’s very offspeed heavy,

    Well, that’s just great.

    • Chilango

      You beat me to it: off speed heavy says it all. He’s going to shut down the usual suspects.

  • Marcy

    How about Joe Torre being in the trainers room w/Jeter after he went down? Anyone else surprised the Yankees let that happen or is it because he’s part of MLB? I’m thinking it had to be because for some reason his parents weren’t there – any thoughts on that?

    • cr1

      I read that he was present at the game representing the Commissioner’s office; in the circumstances the Yankees probably could not refuse him entry, and perhaps they didn’t want to.

    • RetroRob

      His parents aren’t there? : -) He’s a grown man, almost 40!

      Torre can move in and out of all club houses because of his position withthe Commissioner’s office. The two obviously have a very close relationship, so no surprise since he was in the park.

      • Marcy

        Have you been watching him all these years – his parents even ride in the car w/him @ All-Star games.

        • RetroRob

          I know he has a very close relationship with his parents. If Jeter’s parents had been in attendance Torre still would have been there. He was at the game, the two have a close relationship, Torre is allowed access because of his job with MLB, so he went back to see how Derek was doing. Come to think of it, MLB has very strict rules now on who can have access to the club house, so I doubt Jeter’s parents would even be allowed there during the game.

          My point is that Torre was there because he just so happened to be at the game. He wasn’t there as some substitute for his parents.

  • Barrel Roll

    Throw all those stats out – Sanchez will be the 2nd coming of a young Greg Maddux today.

    Yankees baseball – where we make your ordinary pitchers extraordinary!

    • Now Batting

      Greg Maddux? You’re overrating the lineup. I was thinking Cy Young or Whitey Ford.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Maddux is better than both.

        • Now Batting

          I don’t want to get into a debate, but Maddux was not better than Ford in the postseason.

  • Barrel Roll

    And despite Grandy’s success the first time he saw Sanchez this year – it will appear like he’s never seen the guy before. I can just envision him hacking at that down and in junk right now.

  • RetroRob

    First four hitters will all be lefties, counting the switch Teixeira. Martin batting fifth says it all!

    Ichiro Suzuki LF
    Robinson Cano 2B
    Mark Teixeira 1B
    Raul Ibanez DH
    Russell Martin C
    Alex Rodriguez 3B
    Curtis Granderson CF
    Nick Swisher RF
    Jayson Nix SS

    • RetroRob

      If someone had told you in March that Ichiro would be batting leadoff, Ibanez and Martin were the cleanup and 5th-place hitters, Swisher 8th, Nix starting and it was a playoff game…???

  • oldmanalex currently benchwarming

    i don’t get why they can’t throw AROD at short and get chavy in the lineup. He can’t really be any worse than Jeter from a fielding standpoint.

    • captain kiwi

      i was kinda wondering about his too. i know joe said they wouldn’t, but i’d be cool with it.

    • RetroRob

      He can be a lot worse. The last time A-Rod played reguarly at SS he was 27 and was in the physical prime of his career. He’s now 37, a decade removed from playing short, has a bad hip, is heavier and much less mobile. Probably not the time to ask him to take over the most demanding position on the field outside of catcher at a position where fludity and timing are key to turning double plays and not getting killed by players rolling into second. This is not fantasy baseball.

      I’m not picking on the idea. I suggested it myself. I wouldn’t just throw him out there today, but if they were serious he probably needs to do some drills on the side before game action.

    • JJ

      I don’t really see the point.

      Chavez has been awful at the plate. At least Nix had 1 very good game hitting. Don’t really have an issue with Nix getting some ABs over Chavez.

    • Marcy

      I don’t know if it was ARod just trying to be PC (which is more than possible) but when Jeter went on the DL w/the calf injury they asked him about it and he said he couldn’t do it anymore. Besides, he’s way too big at this time.

  • chris

    All the so-called fans just go watch football because your negativity just is annoying. Nobody knows what’s hoping to happen yeah it sucks but this is the hand they have been dealt so let’s give them a chance.

  • Eddard

    Looks like Girardi didn’t learn anything from last night and still has the 3 stooges batting 6-7-8. This is the worst Tigers starter so if they can’t hit him they won’t hit any of them.

    • RetroRob

      I like your bi-polar posts.

      • TheLittleShip

        I agree. My sister is bi-polar, so I can decipher and understand his posts. Well, some of them.

    • OldYanksFan

      Are you a Red Sox fan… or just not too bright?

  • celerinosanchez

    Put in gardner for swisher. let him bunt 4 times. at least he can catch the ball.

    • JJ

      Can’t believe Swisher is still in there. So frustrating.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Or at least won’t do an unnecessary nose dive.

  • celerinosanchez

    Return of the Centaur!

  • Mick taylor

    Swisher cost us the game last night . He should not be playing Gardner should or as I suggested before the series , Dickerson. Gardner and Dickerson may not hit but they won’t play shit defense and hit into double plays like the choke king . Tonite I predict swisher will contribute mightily to a loss.he won’t even be on the team come next weekend but girardi is afraid of hurting his feelings

  • Fire Girardi

    Time for Joe to go. Absolutely horrid manager. I refuse to believe there are many that are worse than him. Just as bad? Perhaps. Certainly not in the top half. And even if he is just mediocre (which he isn’t, he’s far worse) why stick with mediocrity? Try something new. Find something better.

    • stuart a

      your solution is???????

      who and why????

      lets hear it einstein…

    • DC

      Wow, you got called out by stuart…

      • jjyank (HIROK Them Like a Hurricane)

        Yeah that’s….well I’ll be polite and just say that it isn’t parade-worthy.

    • dan gen

      time for sweet lou to return and kick butt…

  • Marcy

    Wow, MLB agreeing Cano was safe last night.

    • stuart a

      so,…. they give us the run?

      they do not want to use instant replay because it would get rid of the human element!!!

      afterall I know tons of people that go to the game to watch the umps!!! give me a break….

      2 challenges a game you get them right you keep them…On the time it takes to get it right, give me a break….watch a redsux/yankee game and tell me about time….

  • Marcy

    Question – Do the umps or MLB review the game tape after the game or after the season’s over.

    • pat

      For the lulz, yes.

      “Can you believe I called that shit? And there’s nothing they can do about it!! HAHAHAHAH”

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    We may still win this game and the ALCS but wow having a .211 catcher batting fifth tells you something about the state of the team. I hope he goes 4 for 4 with two homers and five runs batted in.

  • dan gen

    how about that attendance…..when are yankees going to figure it out…poor product and too expensive.

    • Havok9120

      If the numbers the team is saying are true (where they actually sold some 47K seats for yesterday’s game) then the issue is one of people not using (and the secondary market not being able to re-sell) the tickets, so the franchise doesn’t really feel the pain. The tickets got sold.

      Heck, they had the second highest home attendance in baseball, in terms of average tickets sold AND absolute attendance. We’re making a huge deal out of something that doesn’t affect the team much at all.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Poor product?

      Maybe you haven’t noticed, but they are one of only 4 teams still playing.

      • dan gen

        they suck………….

  • jjyank (HIROK Them Like a Hurricane)

    Fuck it. They got this. Adversity will make the trophy all the sweeter.