Aníbal Sánchez is one of the 331 players to have thrown pitches at some point in the past 27 seasons for the Florida and Miami Marlins.
Of the pitchers who have started 100 or more games for the Marlins franchise, Anibal Sánchez’ 111 ERA+ ranks tied for third, behind Josh Johnson‘s 133 and Josh Beckett‘s mark of 118. Incidentally, the 111 was tied with Dontrelle Willis and A.J. Burnett.
Born 36-years-ago today, Sánchez is a six-foot, 205 lb. right-handed pitcher from Maracay, VZ. The Boston Red Sox were the first to take a chance on him, signing him at the tender age of 17 in 2001. He never reached the majors with Boston, instead switching to the Florida Marlins via trade after the conclusion of the 2005 campaign with Hanley Ramirez, Jesus Delgado, and Harvey Garcia for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota.
2006 would be Sánchez’ rookie campaign. He started in 17 of his 18 appearances and posted a 10-3 record with a 2.83 ERA, a 1.190 WHIP, and a ninth-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year award voting. On September 6th, Sánchez held the the Arizona Diamondbacks to zero hits in a 2–0 victory at Dolphin Stadium. Despite walking four batters, he limited his output to 103 pitches, striking out six. In that game, the Marlins set the record for most rookies to play for the winning team in a no-hitter, with six.
A torn labrum limited Sánchez to only six starts in 2007. Clearly not the same pitcher, Sánchez struggled to a 2.067 WHIP in 30 innings, surrendering 43 hits and going 2-1 with a 4.80 ERA before enduring surgery. He didn’t make a return from rehab to the majors until the final day of July 2008. In 10 starts for the Marlins to close out that season, he was 2-5 with a 5.57 ERA, 50 K’s in 51 2/3 innings, and a 1.568 WHIP.
A fresh start for Sánchez awaited in 2009, but he again missed over half the season with injuries. In 16 starts, he was 4-8 with a 3.87 ERA.
2010 would see Sánchez finally remain in the Florida Marlins rotation for a full season, the only pitcher to do so that year. In 32 starts, he posted a 13-12 record and a 3.55 ERA, along with 157 whiffs in 195 innings. On July 29th, he flashed some more of that no-hit magic in a complete game, one-hit shutout victory against the San Francisco Giants. Sánchez walked one and struck out eight, getting 71-of-118 pitches over the plate.
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In 2011, Sánchez for the first time in his career struck out over a batter per inning, whiffing 202 in 196 1/3 frames. Over 32 starts, he was 8-9 with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.278 WHIP. On September 10th, he racked up his second shutout of the season in a 3-0 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates, striking out 11, walking three, and allowing one hit. He put an incredible 86-of-119 pitches in the strike zone, a strike rate of 72.3 percent.
2012 would see Sánchez begin the season 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA after 19 starts for the newly christened Miami Marlins. He was dealt near the trade deadline with Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for Rob Brantley, Brian Flynn, and Jacob Turner. Yeah we lost that trade.
Sánchez went 44-45 with a 3.75 ERA in seven years for the Marlins before going 46-49 with a 4.43 ERA in six seasons with the Tigers. He led the American League in 2013 with a 2.57 ERA and later finished fourth in the Cy Young Award for that season. Since then, he’s pitched a season each with the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals, helping them to the World Series Championship in 2019.