Then, on July 10, Sanchez came out of nowhere to throw a no hitter against the Padres (asterisk, right? It’s the San Diego Padres) and a day after Tim Lincecum went six and a third innings before giving up a hit against San Diego. I’m still not sold on Sanchez, as I’m sure most other people aren’t. The borinqueño pitched reasonably well for Puerto Rico in the World baseball Classic, but he has proved to be remarkably inconsistent over his brief major league career. Even with the no-hitter, his ERA is still 4.69 and his WHIP, despite no hits or walks over nine innings is still an even 1.50. In fact, an error by Juan Uribe was the only thing between Sanchez and perfection, which certainly must’ve made Uribe feel Julio Lugo-ish. At least someone didn’t get a base knock with two outs in the ninth inning.
No-hitters may not be all that rare, but perfect games most definitely are. For Sanchez to pitch a perfect game would have blown my mind, and he basically did a pitch a perfect game, at least on the pitcher’s end, so mind blown I guess. But is this a turning point for Sanchez’s career? Will he go the route of solid pitcher like Carlos Zambrano, Jon Lester and Justin Verlander before him? Or will he end up on the route of Anibal Sanchez, Bud Smith, and Jose Jimenez.
Jimenez is probably most comparable to Sanchez at this juncture in his career. Jimenez was in his first full big league season when he threw a no-hitter for St. Louis in 1999. He finished 1999 with a 5-14 record, a 5.85 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. Sanchez is in his second full major league season as a starter and is 3-8 with the aforementioned 4.69 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Jimenez pitched until 2004, but 1999 was his only real season as a starter, another parallel to Sanchez who may very well be headed back to the bullpen.
Jimenez finished with a career ERA of 4.92 over the course of his seven seasons. Sanchez’s ERA over his four seasons? 5.07. Jimenez’s career WHIP was 1.45. Sanchez’s thus far is 1.50, the same as his WHIP thus far in 2009. Both are Hispanic pitchers whose names start with “Jo.” Both last names end in z and have seven letters. Both were 26 years old when they pitched their no hitter and both no hitters happened in a year ending in 9. And Lincoln was Kennedy’s secretary, and Kennedy was Lincoln’s secretary. Either way, my money’s on Jonathan Sanchez’s career turning out like Jose Jimenez’s. I’ll be happy to eat crow if I’m wrong, and if he shows more promise I may just pick him up on my fantasy team again, but until then, to me, he's just an Anibal Sanchez, Bud Smith, and most of all, Jose Jimenez.