Following on from Ian Anderson’s dominant debut (which you can find the breakdown here), there was another exciting prospect making his postseason debut. Initially, he was meant to make it on Thursday, but weather delays led to a postponement until Friday.
The Marlins were in Chicago to face the Cubs, and after a 5-1 win in Game 1, the pressure was on to help the Marlins advance to the NLDS.
Another pitcher mentioned in the NL ROY frame, Sixto Sanchez made another 4 appearances for the Marlins before making his postseason bow. He picked up wins against the Braves and the Phillies, and a loss against the Nationals. His SO rate isn’t as flash as Anderson’s but his 5-pitch arsenal causes enough problems for hitters.
But, as we did with Anderson, we will take a more detailed look into his pitching against the Cubs, and what made his appearance so effective, without being too standout. As seen by the first image his pitches were spread around the zone, as well as being in it.
This isn’t too dissimilar from Anderson’s pitch chart from the night before, however, Anderson was more controlled with his pitches and clustered them when within the strike zone. Sanchez wasn’t as controlled, but what he did was effective. On another positive note, this was a far cry away from his pitch chart from his last start, in an appearance that saw him targeted by the Braves’ hitters.
The areas of density are similar, but there are far more blue dots, thus resulting in his 4 walks in just 3 innings. He was more composed in what was a higher pressure situation against the Cubs, but he showed his ability to make things happen.
With a huge reliance on his fastball, a massive 74% of his pitches, he was more at ease with what he was producing and it led to 11 whiffs from 31swings. This is in stark contrast to his last outing, where his fastball was used just 32% of the time.
He averaged 98.3mph with his fastball, touching 100mph, in a dominant use of his velocity and power. He regularly pounded the strike zone with it, but he did so with control thus creating impressive command. It was a tool that he rarely used against the Braves, but he went back to the basics and did what he did best.
He mixed his velocity up well, using his changeup to go low in the zone and change the hitters’ eyeline.
The one issue that there could be with his changeup, and this was spotted against the Braves, is that it has too much velocity to really make a big difference to his FB in the long-term. As seen from the video below, his CH has some nice movement but it hits 92mph, whilst his FB averages just 6mph more than that. If he was to slow it down further and introduce some more fade to the pitch then he could have a dangerous pairing of pitches.
His other 2 breaking balls, his sinker, and his slider were used just 11 times in total. This showed more confidence in his heater and its changeup, and the results were evidence of how efficient they were.
There was a buzz around the Anderson/Sanchez double debuts and how they would fare as postseason starters, but also as NL ROY candidates. Anderson got the better of Sanchez in terms of his pitching masterclass, but Sanchez went about his business and more importantly got the job done.
The interesting thing would be to see whether he lines up against the Braves in the NLDS after facing them twice already this season, with mixed results. His first appearance saw a 6-inning spell that had 6 SOs and 0 runs allowed, whilst his last appearance had 4 hits, 4 runs, and just 2 SOs in 3 innings. This is largely in part due to him pounding the strike zone in the right areas, causing the Braves’ lineup to swing and miss more regularly.
If he is to get a start for the Marlins in the NLDS, he will need to ensure he is controlled and finds the right areas. An aggressive approach seems the way forward, as he does not want a repeat of the previous appearance.
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