It’s a terrible development for the Marlins and for Sanchez himself, who has long been touted as one of the most promising young weapons in the game. That potential was fully visible in 2020, when the Fish called out Sanchez for his debut in MLB and he achieved a 3.46 ERA in his first seven big league starts – despite just turning 22.
Sanchez averaged 98.8 mph on his power ballast, and while he didn’t register strikeouts at the level some might have hoped for (20.9%), he showed superior control. at average (seven percent walk rate) and ranked seventh out of 158 MLB pitchers (min. 30 innings) with a ground ball rate of 58 percent. There was certainly some hope for more missed bats down the line, too. Sanchez’s 12.8 percent strike rate was good enough for a starting pitcher, and his 38.7 percent pursuit rate on courts outside the strike zone ranked fourth in that same set of 158. starters.
Sadly, Sanchez won’t end up throwing a single pitch for the Marlins in 2021. His start this spring was delayed due to Covid protocols, and the Marlins picked him late in camp after he pitched only 8 1/3 innings in spring training. While many immediately jumped at the duty time argument, it was clear that this was not the case. Sanchez should have been kept until the end of this month in order to push back his free will, and there’s no way that would have happened had he been in good health. (They also had no qualms about the best hope Jazz Chisholm raise the camp as an everyday second baseman, although it would have been much easier to delay his free will than that of Sanchez.)
The goal for Sanchez was a start in mid-April 2021, but he halted training at the team’s alternative site in early April after complaining of shoulder discomfort. Its launch program was on hold for over a month. On the restart, Sanchez quickly pushed the break again, although this time GM Kim Ng (in retrospect, somewhat worryingly) indicated that the new discomfort Sanchez had felt was unrelated to the initial inflammation. with which he was diagnosed in April.
The end result of the entire streak, unfortunately for Sanchez, is that he won’t be racking up any big league service time in 2021. If he did actually get injured throwing in the minor league side, that would appear to be wrong. to sum it up to a little more terrible timing. Craig Mish of the Miami Herald tweets, however, now suggests a tear was discovered in Sanchez in March, but rehabilitation has been recommended. Sanchez was chosen from the team’s alternate site on March 29. While there is some form of documentation indicating that a tear was discovered prior to being optioned, this type of situation is the type that will often result in a time-of-service grievance.
It should be noted, however, that it is still possible for Sanchez to achieve a full year of MLB service in 2021. He entered the season with 103 days of service, meaning he would only need 69. days on the MLB roster to get a full year of service and stay on track for free agency after the 2026 campaign. If the Marlins called Sanchez on the MLB roster and put him on the 60-day roster of the IL in order to open a spot on the 40-player roster, he would receive duty time for all the days spent on the Major League injured roster. If such a move happened on or before July 26, he would still end up with more than a year of service (although his side may still be pushing for retroactive service to secure MLB pay for the first months of service. the season).
To be clear, none of this involves a nefarious plot on the part of the Marlins. The team, after all, called Sanchez in the first place last year when they could have at least kept him on the alternate site. The aforementioned Chisholm promotion is another example of waiving the manipulation of duty time when an opportunity otherwise presented itself.
The timing of discovery of the tear, versus when Sanchez will be kicked out of the major league camp, will prove to be crucial. The same will be true for now with a notional placement on the MLB 60-Day IL – if the Marlins go that route. However, choosing not to do so would be tantamount to ending the season with a 39-man squad, so it’s in their best interests to make such a decision at some point. The question is simply whether it is done in time for Sanchez to reach over a year of service in 2021.