No-hitter resurrects Sanchez
Three weeks ago, the Giants kicked
Jonathan Sanchez out of the rotation and banished him to Triple-A Fresno.
His season was going nowhere, and he was
running out of chances in San Francisco.
And then, overnight, he became
baseball's most talked-about pitcher, throwing the first no-hitter of 2009 (in
a spot start, no less, to replace the injured Randy Johnson). All that kept him
from a perfect game was a Juan Uribe error, as Sanchez wound up striking out 11
Padres without a walk.
Fantasy owners couldn't get their mitts
on Sanchez fast enough. Never mind the disappointing season he was having
before Friday -- the 2-8 record, the 5.30 ERA and the 46 walks in 70 innings. A
no-hitter wiped the slate clean.
Or does it? Do no-hitters have any
effect on a young pitcher's growth? Could it actually be more harmful than
Throwing a no-hitter didn't exactly help
Anibal Sanchez ('06) and Clay Buchholz ('07) take their careers to the next
level. Both were rookies at the time, and now find themselves trying to regain
their footing. And whatever happened to former Cardinals pitchers Jose
Jimenez and Bud Smith after hurling no-nos in '99 and '01, respectively?
Of course, the opposite can be said for
Jon Lester, whose no-hitter last May marked the start of a breakthrough
Which camp does Sanchez fall into?
Only time will tell whether the career
milestone will prove to be more curse or blessing for the Giants lefty.
We do know this: Sanchez has a lot of
promise, and anyone who's watched his career unfold has known this for some
time. There were moments last year when he reminded me of Oliver Perez -- you
know, back when he had 239 punchouts in '04. Sanchez cruised into the '08
All-Star break with a 3.97 ERA and more strikeouts (115) than innings (111)
pitched before predictably wearing down in the second half.
Control and durability are still
weaknesses, as they would be for any pitcher who was converted into a starter
less than two years ago. It didn't help that in the southpaw's first full
season last year, the Giants let him log 158 innings.
With Johnson on the way back from injury
and Ryan Sadowski busting onto the big league scene, a rotation spot isn't
guaranteed, though it will be tough for the club to deny Sanchez the
opportunity on the heels of this gem.
Still, the no-hitter drives home how
dominant Sanchez can be when he's throwing strikes.
When Bud Smith, Anibal Sanchez and Jose
Jimenez tossed no-nos, success wasn't at their fingertips the way it is for the