Veteran righties face off as Nationals oppose Dodgers
While Anibal Sanchez and Kenta Maeda will pitch opposite each on Friday at Dodger Stadium, they actually are unified on at least one front.
Sanchez, a Washington Nationals right-hander, and Maeda, a Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander, both are underperforming. They will get a chance to prove themselves in the second game of a four-game series.
Sanchez (0-5, 5.15 ERA) has lost each of his last four starts. He threw 108 pitches and lasted just 4 2/3 innings Sunday at Philadelphia, though the only two runs he surrendered were unearned.
In seven career starts against the Dodgers, though, he is 1-2 with a solid 3.63 ERA over 39 2/3 innings. And he is even better at Dodger Stadium, going 1-0 over three starts with a 1.65 ERA, with that victory coming last season when he gave up two runs over 5 1/3 innings.
However, Sanchez took the loss in Game 2 of last year's National League Division Series as a member of the Atlanta Braves. He yielded three runs in 4 2/3 innings and was overwhelmed by a dominating outing from Clayton Kershaw.
Perhaps another evening in Los Angeles is just what Sanchez need to get back on track to deliver for a rotation that ranked sixth in the NL with a .305 opponents' on-base percentage. The Dodgers lead that category with a .281 mark.
In his last outing, Sanchez was left to answer for a defense that struggled to back him early, leading to the two unearned runs in the first inning.
"We're going to play together," Sanchez said, according to MLB.com. "No matter who is behind me, I trust them, and I know how baseball is. And I just try to use my game plan in the game. ... That's what I'm thinking about when I'm on the mound. I don't pay attention to who is behind me, because I trust in my team all the time."
Maeda (3-2, 4.66 ERA) is being trusted with a rotation spot even after staff leaders Kershaw and Rich Hill came back from early-season injuries. Ross Stripling and Julio Urias were sent to the bullpen.
However, the veteran right-hander has yet to seize the opportunity, giving up at least four runs in three of his past five outings while walking at least three batters in four of his past six starts.
Friday will be Maeda's first regular-season start against the Nationals, although he did start against them in Game 3 of the 2016 NLDS. It was not pretty, as Maeda gave up four runs over three innings and Washington earned an 8-3 victory.
The Dodgers will look to support Maeda with a new-look lineup that had Corey Seager in the No. 6 spot Thursday for the first time since 2016. Coming off hip and elbow surgeries in the offseason, Seager is batting .230 with just two home runs after going 0-for-3 as Los Angeles fell 6-0 to the Nationals. The result ended the Dodgers' 10-game home winning streak.
"I know Corey is really grinding and trying to work through his mechanics, and we have other guys who are swinging the bats well right now," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, explaining the batting-order move. "So, for him to sort of sit back, let the game come to him, get guys on base and put him in situations where potentially he can drive in a run without getting a hit, feel better about his at bats, that's a little bit of my thought behind it."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 10, 2019