Phillies' Cristopher Sánchez has no regrets about changing his approach this season

The Phillies left-hander has altered his approach and so far it's paying dividends.
Philadelphia Phillies starter Cristopher Sánchez
Philadelphia Phillies starter Cristopher Sánchez / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

It's no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation has been one of, if not the best, starting staffs in baseball. Multiple starting pitchers have contributed to the rotation's early season success.

While Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola starting the season strong may not be the biggest surprise, the starts of left-handers Ranger Suárez and Cristopher Sánchez have only improved the rotation's stats and effectiveness.

Entering the season, Sánchez was viewed as a backend starter and his stability came into question. After changing his approach this season, the left-hander has been very effective and is happy he made the adjustments.

Phillies' Cristopher Sánchez has no regrets about changing his approach this season

The biggest adjustment that Sánchez has made from 2023 to 2024 is throwing harder. As he told The Athletic's Eno Sarris this week, he has no regrets about throwing harder. It may seem easy to say, "Well, why didn't he do that sooner?"

The answer is not so concrete.

With the uptick in velocity, the left-hander lost some movement on his pitches. That adjustment made the 27-year-old struggle with his command. In his first eight starts, Sánchez walked 18 batters in 42 innings. In 99 1/3 innings in 2023, he walked just 16 opposing hitters.

The increase in velocity likely took some time for Sánchez to adjust to. It seems that he has. In his subsequent three starts, the Phillies starter has walked just two batters in 18 1/3 innings pitched. In Wednesday's win in San Francisco, he pitched six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, issuing one free pass.

How drastic has Sánchez's change in velocity been?

The increase in velocity has been pretty significant for the 27-year-old. From 2023 to 2024, Sánchez's average fastball increased by 2.1 mph, and his average off-speed pitches increased by an impressive 3.2 mph.

While the increase in velocity has been undoubtedly helpful, the newfound speed has lessened the movement on some of his pitches. For example, the active spin rate on his change-up dropped from 94 percent in 2023 and 89 percent in 2022 to 88 percent this year.

Either way you look at it, the improvements Sánchez has made have been great for this Phillies rotation. The numbers are telling. In 2023, the left-hander posted a 3.44 ERA over 99 1/3 innings in 18 starts. Thus far in 2024, through 60 1/3 innings, Sánchez has lowered his ERA to 2.83 through 11 starts.

For what is essentially a fourth starter, Sánchez's continuing improvements have ultimately made the Phillies rotation the best in the majors. If he has indeed found something with his velocity, there are not many limitations to this starting staff.