Aníbal to start Game 3 for Nats; Game 4 TBD
HOUSTON -- Veteran right-hander Aníbal Sánchez will start Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night in Washington, Nationals manager Dave Martinez revealed before the Nats' 12-3 victory in Game 2 on Wednesday.
The Nationals had a choice between Sánchez and Patrick Corbin for the assignment, but after Corbin threw a 21-pitch scoreless sixth inning in relief in Game 1 on Tuesday, the Nats wanted to give him some extra time to recover. But Martinez did not fully commit to starting Corbin in Saturday’s Game 4 on Saturday, wanting to see how Corbin responded to his latest relief appearance -- and perhaps to see whether he would be needed out of the bullpen again.
“We'll cross that bridge when we get there,” Martinez said. “Tonight is the game I worry about. And let's focus on tonight.”
That has been the Nationals' mentality this entire postseason -- win today and worry about the next day when it arrives. It’s helped them build a 2-0 lead in the series after winning the first two games in Houston. And it’s why they have so aggressively used their starters out of the bullpen all month, but especially Corbin, who has now made more relief appearances (four) than starts (two) this postseason.
“I just try to be available whenever they need me,” Corbin said after Game 1 on Tuesday night.
Martinez wanted to talk to Corbin after he played catch to see how his arm felt before Game 2, but the Nats did not need him in relief Wednesday. If the Nats had a lead late in Game 3, however, perhaps Martinez would use Corbin to help close it out.
It’s why the Nationals added Joe Ross to their World Series roster as a backup plan. Ross seems most likely to take the mound for Game 4 if Corbin could not. However, Ross was not on the team’s postseason roster in any of the previous rounds, and he has not pitched in a game since Sept. 29.
Sánchez, meanwhile, will throw the first World Series pitch in D.C. since the Senators lost Game 5 of the 1933 Fall Classic to the New York Giants. The righty has not pitched since Oct. 11, when he threw a gem to beat the Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Sánchez took a no-hitter through 7 2/3 innings before allowing a pinch-hit single to José Martínez and then exiting the game.
Combined with his no-decision in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Dodgers, Sánchez has thrown 12 2/3 innings this postseason, allowing one run on only five hits, walking three and striking out 14. Opponents are batting .116 against him and slugging .209.
“He's had this happen before to him and it didn't seem to affect him,” Martinez said of the long layoff. “So he gets it, he's a professional, he kept himself ready. He's been engaged this whole time.”