How many people remember when Anibal Sanchez exploded onto the scene in 2006 by posting 10 wins with a 2.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 114.1 innings (including a no-hitter)? 

Of course, focusing on the numbers would be ignoring his .240 BABIP or his miniscule 5.67 K/9, but those numbers aren’t important, right?

His numbers were impressive, but the three subsequent years were marred by injuries (including shoulder surgery) and inability.  He made a grand total of 32 starts (167.2 innings) over the three-year span, though 2009 showed signs of hope.  He posted a 3.87 ERA overall, including a 2.94 ERA in six starts over the final month of the year. 

He rode his strong finish into 2010 and Sanchez showed that he had potentially put his past behind him:

13 wins
195.0 innings
3.55 ERA
1.34 WHIP
157 strikeouts (7.25 K/9)
70 walks (3.23 BB/9)
.305 BABIP

It took quite a long time, but Sanchez may have finally fully recovered from the arm issues that cost him nearly three years of his career.  He averaged 91.3 mph on his fastball in 2010, faster than he was throwing back in ’06 (90.8 mph). 

That alone gives us hope.

Over his minor-league career he posted a 10.12 K/9, showing that the strikeout potential was certainly there.  How much stock can we actually put into that?  Probably very little, given what he has been through, though it gives us reason to think that his 7.25 mark from ’10 is probably his floor more than his ceiling.  I wouldn’t anticipate him taking a huge step forward, but an improvement certainly is possible.

He had always shown great control prior to his surgery.  Over his minor league career he posted a BB/9 of 2.91.  It is not a surprise that he struggled rediscovering his location after the surgeries.  While it may have taken longer than many others to find it again, 2010 was no fluke.  He has good control and should continue to do so in 2011.

The one number that jumps out that could be concerning is perhaps his home/road split:

  • Home – 2.65 ERA, 1.23 WHIP over 91.2 innings
  • Road – 4.35 ERA, 1.44 WHIP over 103.1 innings

There was some luck at play (.319 BABIP on the road vs. .286 at home), but it was more that he struck out fewer batters (6.27 K/9 vs. 8.35) that jumps out at you.  Exactly what is the explanation?  Could it be that sitting in the dugout for the first half of an inning threw off his rhythm? 

Anything is possible, but it is something that is worth monitoring.  We’ve seen it before where a pitcher is a must use at home and a bench option when on the road, so keep that in mind.

Obviously, none of the numbers he posted in 2010 are elite marks.  In fact they are far from it—but even if he could just replicate them he should be a solid option to fill out your fantasy rotation.  With his potential to take the next step forward as he puts his surgeries further in the rear view mirror, there is a lot to like.  Yes, there is risk, but late in your draft there is also a lot of potential reward.

What are your thoughts of Sanchez?  Is he a player you would draft?  Why or why not?

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