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Sánchez Makes the Deal Sweeter by Defeating the D-backs in the Series

Cristopher Sánchez is not the kind of player to rest on his laurels, which is one of the reasons the Phillies felt comfortable signing him to an extension at this time, according to Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations for the team.

Just one game, but already it’s enjoyable.

Shortly after agreeing to a new deal, Sánchez demonstrated why the Phillies were so keen to retain him in the lineup for the foreseeable future. The left-hander defeated the D-backs 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, cruising through seven scoreless innings in typical Sánchez manner.

“It’s incredible signing the extension yesterday and then having this outing today,” Sánchez remarked through Diego D’Aniello, the team spokesperson. “But we have to keep going, we have to keep doing things right.”

Sánchez gave up just three hits, zero walks, and four strikeouts. He faced only one over the minimum and required only 80 pitches to navigate his seven frames.

The fact that he completed the task following the signing of a contract that would change his life and the innumerable compliments he received from friends and family (said that “it was like a holiday for them”) only serves to highlight his growth.

Rob Thomson, the manager, remarked, “He’s grown up, man.” “He was brilliant today. He just did a masterful job.”

With this most recent gem, Sánchez decreased his season ERA to 2.67. The fact that he has only given up one home run in 15 starts is an even more amazing statistic.

Since Jake Peavy in 2007, Sánchez is the first pitcher to allow one home run or fewer through 15 starts in a season. Additionally, he is the first pitcher from the Phillies to do it over any 15-start stretch in a season since Jerry Koosman in 1984.

jokingly, “I told him I needed to have a sit-down talk with him about how to not give up homers,” Aaron Nola said to his squad.

However, it goes well beyond just preventing home runs. So far, Sánchez has only walked 24 hitters. He has 70 strikeouts.

With a sub-3.00 ERA, 70 strikeouts, 25 or fewer walks, and no more than one home run allowed through the first 15 starts of a season, he is only the fifth pitcher in AL/NL history and only the second in the previous 100 years. The others are Grover Alexander (1915), Charles Bender (1912), Bill Gullickson (1981), and Hall of Famers Walter Johnson (1916, ’14).

Phillies ace Zack Wheeler said of the man, “He’s worked extremely hard to make himself better; make himself a really good big league pitcher.” “I’m happy to have him here for a long time now. I think it was a smart move by the front office.”

At 60.4%, Sánchez had the third-highest ground-ball rate in the Majors going into Sunday. So it should come as no surprise that he forced two double plays to end the game and remove two of the three baserunners he allowed.

It’s also not surprising that his changeup was used in both double plays.

Perhaps the most effective pitch on Philadelphia’s staff is Sánchez’s changeup. Throughout his career, opponents have only hit.166 (49-for-295) against him, with a slugging percentage of.258 as of Sunday. In addition to the two double plays, the D-backs were just 1-for-10 against the changeup, with three strikeouts.

Add to it Sánchez’s higher fastball velocities this year. His sinker was averaging 94.5 mph as of Sunday, up from 92.1 mph the previous year. The Phillies have always known he possesses that kind of velocity, but up until this point, he was unable to control it.

“He’s a guy who threw really hard before he got up here, but his command wasn’t the best,” Nola stated. “So the velocity kind of dipped down while he got his command better, but now that velocity is creeping up again and he was able to keep that command, so it’s been impressive.”

“And obviously, he’s got that changeup, which really makes him elite.”

In the previous year’s NL Championship Series, Sánchez’s outstanding performance contributed to the team’s series win over the D-backs, who shockingly terminated the Phillies’ season. Sánchez’s one appearance in the 2023 postseason saw him toss just 38 pitches over 2 1/3 innings in his Game 4 start against Arizona.

Sánchez is currently under contract until 2028, with club options for ’29 and ’30. He will likely have a greater influence in future postseason appearances, both in ’24 and beyond.

“As a whole, we have one goal and that is to win the World Series this year,” he declared. “I want to be a part of that and help the team as much as I can during that run.”

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