Sanchez, Nats shoot for series win over Mets

MLB

It took almost three weeks for Anibal Sanchez to get a chance to pitch every five days for the Washington Nationals. The New York Mets saw their starting-pitching depth evaporate much quicker than that.

Sanchez (0-2, 7.84 ERA) will look to guarantee the Nationals a series win on Wednesday when he takes the mound against the Mets in the third game of a four-game set. New York has yet to announce a starter, though Walker Lockett is a candidate to make his season debut after being activated off the injured list Tuesday.

Max Scherzer threw six solid innings and Trea Turner hit a leadoff homer Tuesday to spark the Nationals to a 2-1 win over the Mets.

Sanchez started the Nationals’ fourth game of the season on July 27, but he had 10 days off before pitching against the Baltimore Orioles last Friday, when he took the defeat after allowing five runs over 5 1/3 innings in an 11-0 loss.

The 36-year-old right-hander had his start pushed back because the Nationals’ three-game series against the Miami Marlins from July 31-Aug. 2 was postponed due to the Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak, and then because there were off days surrounding a two-game series against the Mets on Aug. 4-5. The latter break allowed Washington to pitch Patrick Corbin and Scherzer on regular rest.

The Nationals trailed 4-0 after five innings last Friday, but manager Dave Martinez left Sanchez in to start the sixth in hopes it would help him continue finding his rhythm and routine. Sanchez began the sixth inning at 83 pitches and threw eight more before being pulled.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily the time off that he may have had, but he hasn’t been in that every-five-day rotation yet, so that’s why I wanted to leave him out there,” Martinez said. “I wanted to get him up there about 90 pitches … just so he gets that feeling.”

The Mets probably would be ecstatic to get 90 pitches out of their starter Wednesday night. Whoever gets the call will be pitching in the spot usually occupied by Michael Wacha, who took the loss last Friday against the Marlins, then went on the injured list Sunday due to right shoulder inflammation.

Wacha was sixth on the Mets’ rotation depth chart when spring training began. Noah Syndergaard’s elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery shortly after the pandemic shutdown turned Wacha into the No. 5 starter, and he moved up another spot when Marcus Stroman sustained a torn left calf muscle in late July. Stroman opted out of the rest of the season on Monday.

Lockett has an 8.84 ERA in 37 2/3 big league innings dating back to 2018, but the Mets don’t have many options behind him.

Corey Oswalt, who is at the alternate training site in Brooklyn, has a 6.69 ERA in parts of three seasons. Relievers Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are possibilities, but Gsellman came off the injured list Friday and Lugo has been valuable (1-1 with a 2.00 ERA and three saves) as a late-inning reliever.

“We’re always going to look for ways to improve and add depth,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Monday afternoon.

Sanchez is 5-6 with a 4.60 ERA in 17 career starts against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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