Anibal goes 4 strong in start against Marlins

March 10th, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Anibal Sanchez sailed through four innings against the Marlins on Saturday night and he looked like a guy ready for the regular season. In three spring appearances for his new team, he has allowed two earned runs in eight innings.

“Overall, I feel comfortable with what I did today,” Sanchez said following the Nats' 2-1 loss to the Marlins in Grapefruit League action. “I was able to throw the four innings and continue to build my arm to the season. Another Spring Training game.”

His 2018 season with the Braves was a remarkable career rebirth after three tough seasons with the Tigers. But those Detroit seasons, six of them in all, helped lead Sanchez to the Nationals. 

"Last year, I put in a lot of effort to be here today,” he said. “When I see my uniform, I feel a blessing. I knew before 2018, I was really, really struggling for my career.”

Sanchez chose the Nationals, he said: “That was my top team on the list. I know they’re a good team and have a good chance to be in the playoffs. Overall, it’s the kind of team they have.”

Sanchez helped the Braves win the National League East in 2018 with 25 appearances and a 2.83 ERA. He’s hoping to do the same with the Nats, and he is off to a good start.

“He was really, really good,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He pounded the strike zone. He was very efficient, and that’s what he likes to do. He likes to get quick outs and keep going. What I like about him is you really don’t know what he’s going to throw pitch to pitch. Even if he’s behind, he can still throw a curveball for a strike, a cutter, two different kinds of changeups.”

Opening Day look

Martinez employed what could be his Opening Day lineup against the Marlins. “Possibly,” he said. “I kind of like it. I know we got no-hit there for awhile, but I still like it."

Yes, about that.

Miami pitchers Pablo Lopez and Wei-Yin Chen opened the game by retiring 22 straight Nationals. Catcher Pedro Severino singled with one out in the bottom of the eighth for Washington’s first baserunner. Shortstop Carter Kieboom, ranked as the organization’s No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, broke up the shutout with a ninth-inning home run. He came close to hitting one in the seventh inning.

“He opened my eyes last year as well,” Martinez said of Kieboom. “He’s going to be a good one. He works good at-bats and is swinging the bat really well right now. What I like about him right now is he can play both shortstop and second base as well. He’s one of our young guys, and we’re going to make sure we take care of him.”

Up next

Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson will make his third start of the spring at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday when the Nationals take on the Astros in West Palm Beach. Hellickson has allowed one earned run in five innings in two previous starts as he tries to grab the fifth spot in Washington's rotation.