Starting pitcher for the Phillies, Cristopher Sánchez, is plagued by a past issue once more this year…

Currently, one of MLB’s deepest starting rotations belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies. With just five places available and six strong starters, the Phillies have the kind of depth that rival teams like the Miami Marlins and New York Mets could only hope for in 2024.

There was talk of using Spencer Turnbull to piggyback Taijuan Walker and Cristopher Sánchez when the Phillies sent him to the bullpen. It made sense for several reasons, not the least of which being that Sánchez’s development as a starting pitcher is still ongoing. Sánchez has just twice in his 30 career starts gone into the seventh inning, indicating that he is not yet the kind of starter who can go deep into games.

His final outing on the field on Monday against the Mets was both amazing and disappointing. Sánchez, who was having trouble maintaining control and had some bruises on the palm of his left throwing hand, reached a low point when he led off with a walk and then asked a trainer to examine his hand. It needed just nine pitches to get out of the inning and strike out Jeff McNeil, Brett Baty, and Harrison Bader, allowing them to stay in the game.

It’s difficult not to give Sánchez credit for focussing on the task at hand and getting key outs in an inning that might have gotten further out of hand, even though it wasn’t the best manner to strike out the side.

Previous issues returning to haunt the Phillies During the first month and a half of the baseball season, Cristopher Sanchez

Sanchez has proven to be as dependable as any fifth starter. Despite having a 3.43 ERA and a 2-3 record, the left-hander has largely given the Phillies a chance to win in the majority of the games he has thrown this season.

It’s simple to identify a few problems that have dogged Sánchez over his first thirty major league outings. Defense has never been his strong suit, and this Monday night’s basic play in which he mishandled covering first base is only the most recent instance of a pitcher who has to improve at fielding his position.

Although his five-to six-inning starts may worry some, the Phillies are more than content if Sánchez finishes the game ahead of schedule. With that kind of output, manager Rob Thomson won’t be too concerned about depending on the Phillies bullpen, which has established itself as one of the best in the league, to see them through.

This season, Sánchez’s issue is that he is once again walking batters. Through his first eight starts, he has given up 18 walks in 42 innings pitched. In 2023, he only walked 16 hitters in 99 1/3 innings (18 starts). For a pitcher who improved his control after high walk rates caused issues in the minor leagues and early in his MLB career, it is a very concerning reversion.

Cristopher Sánchez has had difficulty controlling his sinker.
This season, Sánchez has struggled to get batters out with his sinker. The sinker has actually been the weakest pitch in his arsenal for the past two years, as batters have batted.351 and.297 against it in 2024 and 2023, respectively. With a pitch that Sánchez has used 49.2 percent of the time and only produced seven strikeouts this year, it is undoubtedly a concerning trend.

His performances against batters with his changeup (.190) and slider (.229) are far superior than those figures. Based on the sinker’s performance over the past two seasons, he may be extremely hittable at times or entirely lose control of the pitch. All in all, that’s causing more people to walk and more traffic on the base pathways.

To set up the changeup and slider, two pitches that continue to be effective out-pitches for the 27-year-old, Sánchez will need to either figure out a method to relearn the pitch or create a new one.

 

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