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Anibal Sanchez looks to continue resurgent season against Washington

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The Braves veteran starter is having a great season after three disappointing years in Detroit.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

2018 has been very good to the 34-year-old Anibal Sanchez.

After coming to spring training with the Braves on a minor league contract there were little-to-no expectations for Sanchez this season. Yet here we are nearing mid August and Anibal finds himself as the third most valuable pitcher on staff by evaluation of fWAR (1.3).

Sanchez has been fantastic this season and he’s been doing it mostly by moving further away from his sinker and instead going to his newfound cutter. According to Fangraphs Anibal has gone from throwing his sinker 17.3% of the time in 2017 to 9.5% of the time in 2018 and has increased his cutter usage to 20.9% in 2018 up from 8.6% last season. Sanchez didn’t even throw a cutter up until 2015 and his use of it has increased every year since up to this season where it has become his new favorite pitch.

Overall, Anibal owns a 2.89 ERA and 3.75 FIP over 84 innings in a Braves uniform. He has also struck out 83 batters and walked just 26. To legitimize these numbers even more Sanchez has a 3.85 SIERA (basically a more advanced version of FIP) which is an above average rating in that category.

Sanchez’s opponent will be the always solid Gio Gonzalez who is basically just a 3 WAR starter on a yearly basis now. Dating back to 2010 Gonzalez has posted a 3+ fWAR season every year except for 2016 (2.9 fWAR) and is the epitome of starter consistency.

In layman’s terms, Gonzalez isn’t some amazing pitcher, but he will give his team a chance to win most every time he takes the mound. Gonzalez is 6-and-8 this season with a 4.04 ERA and 4.14 FIP. Gonzalez has 108 strikeouts in 118 innings with 59 walks and his SIERA is 4.60 which is actually pretty poor.

This is definitely an interesting matchup considering both of these guys have Postseason experience and know that these games in August matter coming down the stretch. Expect both pitchers to bring their A-game as the Nationals look to avoid a series loss and the Braves attempt to urge ever closer to regaining the number one seed in the NL East.

It should be some fun baseball in Washington today despite having to watch it on Facebook again... sigh.

Game Info

Time/Date: Thursday, August 9, 1:05 PM EST

Location: Nationals Park

Streaming: Facebook (for free), fuboTV (with membership)

Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM, 106.7 FM Braves Radio Network