Jonathan Sanchez Shelled As Pirates Lose Sweep Attempt 10-2

Jonathan Sanchez

Jonathan Sanchez’s control issues returned in the loss to the D-Backs.

When baseball games that count are played in early April, most of the conclusions people draw are based around confirmation bias. These first nine games are no more significant than the nine games that will happen May 8-16 or June 15-23 or whenever.

But conclusions are drawn at this point anyway, because all the stats that show up on the TV screen and scoreboard rely solely on these nine games and because we have not seen these players take part in baseball games that affect the standings in half a year. So the statements are made: Pedro Alvarez will never hit lefties, Russell Martin can’t hit at all, it’s Losing Season No. 21 already and on and on in any combination that tickles your fancy.

On to Jonathan Sanchez.

If you thought before the season that he still has a chance to bounce back this season, strike some hitters out and benefit from being a lefty in PNC Park, you have something to point to. It was just five days ago that he stared down a tough Dodgers lineup, pitched five strong innings before running into trouble, commanded his fastball well and avoided his regular control problems. And he could do it again.

If you thought before the season that Sanchez simply doesn’t have it in him anymore to be a Major League starter, you have something to point to. He looked awful Wednesday afternoon in a 10-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. His velocity was down, the two-seam fastball and slider were more hittable. The results, before he exited in the fourth inning, were horrendous: nine earned runs, eight hits, four walks and a hit batsman and only two strikeouts. Sanchez also served up two home runs to young A.J. Pollock, who wasn’t exactly a power hitter in the minor leagues. And he could do it again.

A.J. Pollock

This was the three-run homer A.J. Pollock hit in the second inning.

Do you think that Sanchez is pretty much unredeemable as a starting pitcher? I won’t argue with you, not after I quoted Gertrude Stein’s “There is no there there” to describe him in the season preview. His results last year were putrid, and there’s a decent chance he will not be much better this year.

Do you think that there is still some hope for Sanchez? I won’t argue with you either. He struck out 200 hitters in a season once, his slider still has the ability to make hitters whiff and his good spring training starts can’t be entirely waved away.

Jonathan Sanchez lost velocity as the game went on. (Brooks Baseball)

Jonathan Sanchez lost velocity as the game went on. (Brooks Baseball)

All of this is not to say these games are meaningless or that there is nothing we can gleam from Sanchez’s first two starts. My point is that his results after two starts are far less significant than his results after four starts, after six starts and so on (if he even gets the opportunity for six starts). That goes for a lot of these guys, be they newbies like Russell Martin and Mark Melancon, who we are looking at as more than merely “some guy on the other team” for the first time, or players that we expect breakouts from like Starling Marte (who collected two more hits today) and James McDonald.

I wish I could provide better analysis than a long-winded version of throwing my hands up, but I still haven’t seen enough from Jonathan Sanchez to know if I should bury him or praise him.

Other thing happened in the game, like the Pirates going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, Chris Leroux throwing half his pitches for balls, Jared Hughes tossing two perfect frames in mop-up duty and bad infield defense happening. These are all less important than trying to figure out what Jonathan Sanchez is or isn’t.

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James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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  • beatembuccos21

    Any thoughts on the lineup? I think the white flag was being waived the moment the ump got the batting order. Absolutely no reason for Barmes and McDonald to be in the same starting lineup ever.

    • bucco4life


    • pitwalker18

      Couldn’t agree more. Clint Hurdle lost this game. He knew the lineup was going to struggle to score runs. In the Second inning it was clear that Sanchez wasn’t going to rebound from a bad outing. He should have been taken out when it was still 3-0. He needs to be more concerned with winning games. It’s like he expected to lose and was ok with it. Frustrating.

    • James Santelli

      - I didn’t hate the lineup as much as some people. I find it weird for Hurdle to give Walker and Alvarez one of his patented two-day breaks so early in the season, but I can understand why he did it. They are both struggling to get hits early on, so if there is a time to scratch them, it’s against a lefty like Miley.

      – What I found very odd is that even though Wednesday showed the best defensive infield the team can muster (Harrison, Barmes, McDonald, Sanchez), there were still many fielding miscues. Can’t really draw many conclusions from that, but it was unfortunate.

      • pitwalker18

        I can understand giving players a rest. I don’t really have a problem with the lineup but to paraphrase NH ‘it wasn’t the ’27 Yankees”. So why wouldn’t Hurdle give that lineup the best possible opportunity to pull out a W? Take out a struggling pitcher before he takes the whole team out of the game.

  • reddfoxx39

    Please let the Johnathon Sanchez era end in April. It’s OK to admit your mistakes and cut your losses. Sanchez will not win any games for us. He won’t last past the 5th inning, kill the bullpen rotation, and he will suck the life out of me as a fan.

    PLEASE end this.

  • reddfoxx39

    That being said……if Sanchez is pitching and the betting odds are less than 1-2 (like yesterday) on whoever he is facing….run to the window. Free money.

    Let McPherson or Justin Wilson (and his wildness) cut their teeth as the 5th starter until Karstens or Liriano is ready.

    Name 2 starters in the big leagues worse than Sanchez.

    • bucco4life

      McDonald and Locke

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