|Nats' Sanchez hopes to keep groove vs. D-backs|
The Washington Nationals hope pitcher Anibal Sanchez continues to trend upward in Sunday afternoon's series finale against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
Signed in the offseason for two years and $19 million, the veteran right-hander is 2-6 with a 3.92 ERA in 12 starts this season for Washington. But since coming off the injured list in late May, Sanchez has been solid in three starts.
During that span, he has allowed just two earned runs and nine hits in 17 1/3 innings with 15 strikeouts and three walks. In his last start, at Chicago against the White Sox on Monday, he gave up one run on four hits in six innings to get the win.
"This is who I saw last year, watching him (with Atlanta)," Nationals second-year manager Dave Martinez told reporters after the win over the White Sox.
Sanchez will be opposed in the finale of a four-game by Archie Bradley (2-3, 4.26), who will make his first start of the season after 29 appearances out of the bullpen. Bradley is 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA in eight games, including two starts, against Washington in his career.
It will be Bradley's first start since 2016, when he made 26 such appearances for the D-backs.
"It was real hard for me to keep this quiet," Bradley, standing in the Arizona clubhouse after Saturday's 10-3 win over the Nationals, said of his opportunity to start.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Saturday he did not want to use the term "opener," since in the National League, the pitcher could bat early in the game. Lovullo hopes Bradley can go three or four innings.
"We talked to a lot of different people about that," Lovullo said of the Bradley start. "He has been throwing the ball really well. We are going to let him go as hard as he can."
Another candidate to start was Zack Godley, who the manager figures to use in the middle of Sunday's game.
The D-backs look to take three of four games in the series with a win Sunday. The offense has been on fire of late, including an outburst that included five homers -- four off of Stephen Strasburg -- on Saturday.
"Our guys are active. They are ready to do damage," Lovullo said.
Shortstop Nick Ahmed had four hits Saturday.
"In the past I have been too aggressive," said Ahmed, who is now hitting .277.
Ketel Marte hit two homers off Strasburg and has 19 this year.
"He is an amazing player who is getting better," Lovullo said. "He is on an amazing run. He has the ability to be a special player; we are seeing that."
Members of the Arizona roster are 26-for-111 (.234) with two homers off Sanchez.
Outfielder Jarrod Dyson has the most at-bats against Sanchez -- he is 6-for-32 (.188) with eight strikeouts. Catcher Caleb Joseph, called up from Triple-A Reno on Friday, is 2-for-6 with a homer against Sanchez.
The other homer off Sanchez by an Arizona player is from outfielder Steven Souza, Jr., but he is on the injured list with a knee injury.
In his career against the D-backs, Sanchez is 4-1 with a 4.25 ERA in 10 appearances (nine starts).
--Field Level Media