Jonathan Sanchez is set to make his first start of the 2012 season this afternoon in Anaheim, and while it is just one start, it certainly feels like something we should pay a little extra attention to. Sanchez has always been a pitcher that arouses interest, and almost always have also been a pitcher that frustrates. The way the Royal rotation falls, we've got two relatively boring, low-ceiling, middle-floor pitchers in Chen & Hochevar atop, then three offerings of varying degrees of upside, in Sanchez, Mendoza I guess, Duffy and Paulino when he comes back. Sanchez is the hinge that is either going to make the rotation non-terrible or set it up to fail. OK, that's too strong.
The Sancheize barely pitched this Spring, but when he did he was Jonathan Sanchez. He struck out 13 in 11.1 innings, while walking *just* six. (Briefly, we were concerned about his velocity, but that seems to have subsided.) Sanchez does two things, he strikes people out and he walks people. Major League starters strike out around 16% of the batters they face, while JS has hovered around 24% for his career. The average walk rate is 8%, while Sanchez has been around 12% and as high as 15.8%. That 15.8% came last season.
There's not much else in his profile that stands out. He does the one thing you want a pitcher to do very well, very well, and he does the one thing you want a pitcher to avoid, very poorly. M guess is that, on a start by start basis, Sanchez's volatile profile produces wildly different results, depending on how the random sequencing of his walks and strikeouts fall. But again, this is a) a guess and b) pretty much all pitchers anyway.