All these years, Phillies fans could not wait to see Sixto Sanchez take the mound.
They will get their chance Sunday.
Only it won’t be in a Phillies uniform.
Sanchez is listed as the Miami Marlins’ probable starter for the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Phillies. The Phillies have not finalized their pitching for the doubleheader. Vince Velasquez will start one of those games. The Phils are likely to plug the other with a cast of relievers.
Once upon a time, Sanchez was the Phillies’ top pitching prospect. Phillies scout Bart Braun, who died earlier this summer, discovered the converted shortstop late in 2014 while he pitched batting practice to a catcher that the Phillies had interest in. The Phillies passed on the catcher but signed Sanchez, then 16, for the bargain price of $35,000. Before long, Sanchez was showing power stuff and exceptional control on his way to becoming the jewel of the Phillies’ farm system.
Sanchez never made it to Philadelphia. In February 2019, the Phils had a chance to acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto from Miami. The cost was Sanchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro and minor-league lefty Will Stewart. In win-now mode, the Phillies made the deal.
The Marlins called up Sanchez on August 22 and, so far, the 22-year-old right-hander has been everything they imagined – everything Phillies fans once imagined.
Sanchez’ work in his first four starts has been historic. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to collect 25 strikeouts while allowing five or fewer runs and walking two or fewer batters in his first four starts. He has allowed runs in just three of the 25 innings that he has pitched.
Sanchez’ rise to the big leagues – and his early dominance – only puts more pressure on the Phillies to sign Realmuto to a contract extension. Widely considered the game’s best catcher, Realmuto will become a free agent after the World Series.
The Phillies and Marlins played Game 1 of their hugely important seven-game series Thursday night. They will play a doubleheader Friday night, a single game Saturday night, a doubleheader Sunday and a single game Monday.
Here are the tentative Phillies pitchers for the remainder of the series:
- Friday, Game 1 – Aaron Nola
- Friday, Game 2 – TBA
- Saturday – Spencer Howard
- Sunday, Game 1 – Vince Velasquez
- Sunday, Game 2 – Zach Eflin
- Monday – TBA