The Nationals will activate right-hander Anibal Sanchez from the 10-day injured list to start against the Braves on Wednesday, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com was among those to report. Washington will make a corresponding move when Sanchez’s return becomes official.
Sanchez went to the IL with a hamstring strain May 17, the day after the injury forced him into a quick exit in a start against the Mets. The IL placement was the latest less-than-ideal development of the season for the 35-year-old Sanchez, who revived his career with the Braves in 2018. Sanchez’s success in Atlanta led the Nationals to hand him a two-year, $19MM guarantee in free agency.
Two months into Sanchez’s deal, the move hasn’t worked out for the slumping Nats. Sanchez has taken the ball for nine starts and pitched to a below-average 5.10 ERA/4.79 FIP in that 42 1/3-inning span. While Sanchez has struck out just under a batter per inning so far, his walk rate has offset that. Sanchez walked under three per nine last year, but he’s at 5.31 this season. Moreover, his groundball rate has plummeted from 45 percent to 31.5.
At 23-32, the Nationals may be the most disappointing team in the game, but there’s arguably enough talent on hand for the club to get back in the race. Of course, it would help for Sanchez to better resemble the pitcher he was last year upon his return. In doing so, he’d give Washington a solid complement to the all-world Max Scherzer–Stephen Strasburg–Patrick Corbin trio. The Nationals haven’t been able to find any solutions behind them this season, though Erick Fedde did just enjoy a two-start, 10-inning, one-run stretch. Like Sanchez, fellow offseason free-agent signing Jeremy Hellickson has stumbled after a bounce-back 2018. Hellickson went to the IL on May 20 with a shoulder strain.