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June 12, 2024

Cristopher Sánchez is making another leap in 2024

Cristopher Sánchez established himself as a viable major-league starting pitcher in 2023. In 2024, he looks like a full-blown star.

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Cris Sanchez 6.8.24 Kyle Ross/USA TODAY Sports

Cristopher Sánchez has become a key cog in the Phillies' league-best starting pitching rotation in 2024.

In case you have not heard, the Phillies are having a dream season in 2024, and it has been powered by one of the best starting pitching rotations in recent baseball history. Much of the spotlight has gone to Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez and Aaron Nola -- and all three have been excellent through two months and change -- but what separates this rotation from most is that it now has four truly excellent arms.

Cristopher Sánchez, in what felt like a last-ditch effort of sorts by the Phillies to get something out of the gifted left-hander, was inserted back into the starting rotation midway through last season and never looked back. He made a massive leap, and it was a boon for Phillies manager Rob Thomson. But in 2024, Sánchez has taken his exploits to another level.

Here are some numbers -- courtesy of FanGraphs, baseball-reference and Baseball Savant -- which illustrate just how good the lanky southpaw has become:


Sánchez's ERA -- by far a career-best -- through a dozen starts and 66.1 innings pitched in 2024.


The amount of home runs that Sánchez has allowed so far this season. Sánchez has mastered the art of inducing weak contact and keeping the ball down. His 0.14 home runs allowed per nine innings is the best mark among all major-league starting pitchers, according to FanGraphs.


The average velocity in miles per hour on Sánchez's sinker in 2024. The Phillies made a point to dial back Sánchez's velocity last season in hopes it of improving his command, and it worked, with his sinker averaging out at 92.1 miles per hour in 2023. The team took a calculated risk in Spring Training this season, asking him to throw harder and hoping he could still pound the strike zone. He has done exactly that.


Opponents' slugging percentage this season against Sánchez's money pitch, his devastating changeup. Improved command was a major part of his improvement in 2023, but identifying the changeup as a truly special pitch was likely the biggest factor in his turnaround.


Sánchez's ground ball rate in 2024, tops among all starting pitchers in Major League Baseball.


Opposing hitters' collective slash line against Sánchez in his third time through the opposition's batting order in a game. Most pitchers struggle as hitters become more familiar with their delivery and stuff -- a major reason why managers are much more aggressive with bullpen usage these days -- but for Sánchez, the opposite is true: opponents have a .760 OPS against Sánchez in their first plate appearances against him this season and a .601 OPS in their second plate appearances before the number plummets to .567 the third time around.


Sánchez's FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in 2024 -- fifth-best in the majors and second-best in the National League as of this writing. FIP is a statistic designed to account for whether a pitcher is the beneficiary or victim of outlier defensive performance behind them.


The total slash line of all hitters against Sánchez with two outs and runners in scoring position in 2024. One of the surefire signs of a maturing pitcher is their ability to buckle down when the going gets tough. Sánchez has routinely displayed that ability.


Sánchez's ERA since the start of May -- a period spanning six starts and 37.0 innings pitched. Sánchez had a few shaky outings to end the month of April, but has since rebounded in a major way. During this stretch, Sánchez has held all opposing hitters to a .626 OPS.


The total slash line of all left-handed hitters against Sánchez so far in 2024. Sánchez has effectively turned any left-handed batters into automatic outs this season. He has faced 46 lefty hitters so far this season and not a single one has had an extra-base hit.

Sánchez is not this team's ace, and that is okay. He is being asked to perform like a No. 4 starter, and instead is giving the Phillies the kind of production that would land him on the All-Star team in many seasons. What Sánchez has done in 2024 is nothing short of special.

J.T. Realmuto placed on Injured List

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