Rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez is set to make his home debut on Friday, when his Miami Marlins are scheduled to play host to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 22-year-old Sanchez (1-0, 5.40 ERA) made his long-awaited MLB debut by beating the Washington Nationals, 5-3, this past Saturday.
He struck out four and walked none in five innings, impressing seemingly everyone with an electric fastball that reached 100 mph, a hard slider that dives at the plate and a wipeout changeup that can be devastating when a batter is set up for heat.
“It was exciting to see him pitch,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly told reporters. “I think he will continue to get better.”
How good is Sanchez’s stuff?
Here’s a hint: His fastball averaged 98.5 mph, and he got missed swings on 42.9 percent of his sliders.
Sanchez allowed three runs on a pair of homers, but his poise got him the win as he never lost the strike zone. In fact, he threw 66 pitches against Washington — 46 of them for strikes, a phenomenal ratio.
Acquired in the February 2019 trade that sent two-time All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies, Sanchez had a ratio of 4.6 strikeouts per walk during five minor league seasons.
Sanchez, who could be Miami’s most electric starter since Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident in 2016, was scheduled to pitch on Thursday, but the game was postponed as a protest to the repeated killings of unarmed or non-threatening black men.
Tampa Bay, which had been scheduled to play the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night, also had its game postponed.
“With the platform we have as athletes,” Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe said of the social unrest, “we can’t sit back and let this stuff go unnoticed.”
Rays right-hander Ryan Yarbrough (0-2, 4.45 ERA), who had been scheduled to start on Thursday, will now face Miami 24 hours later.
Yarbrough, a 28-year-old Texan, was drafted in the fourth round in 2014.
He has been fairly consistent in the majors, with his ERA ranging from a low of 3.91 in his rookie year of 2018. This year’s 4.45 ERA is on pace to be his career worst.
Overall, Yarbrough has a 27-14 record and a 4.06 ERA in 72 games, including 26 starts.
Yarbrough has made two career appearances against the Marlins, including one start, posting a 0-1 record and a 5.14 ERA. He also has a 6.00 ERA in his one start/appearance at Marlins Park.
Offensively, the Rays are led by Lowe, shortstop Willy Adames and third baseman Yandy Diaz. Lowe leads all Rays starters in batting average (.296) and tops all Tampa players in homers (10) and RBIs (27). Adames leads the Rays in doubles (11), and Diaz has a solid .814 OPS.
Meanwhile, third baseman Brian Anderson and first baseman Jesus Aguilar are tied for Miami’s team lead with four homers each. Aguilar has a team-high 20 RBIs, two more than Anderson.
Shortstop Miguel Rojas leads the Marlins in batting average at .367, but he has played just 10 games. Also, Rojas has slumped lately, going 2-for-16 over his past six games.
Miami also has some other slumping batters such as rookie right fielder Jesus Sanchez (.048); center fielder Lewis Brinson (.161); catcher Jorge Alfaro (.211); and rookie first baseman Lewin Diaz (.222).
–Field Level Media