The Cove
Deep coverage of the Giants

Jonathan Sanchez Is Apparently "Drifting"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jonathan Sanchez didn't exactly have the best outing when he faced the Mets on Thursday. Unless you consider the number five lucky anyway: the lefty gave up five earned runs on five hits over five innings.

    He also struck out six, but any benefit to those K's was wasted on the six walks he issued as well. Yikes. Ugh. Etc.

    Needless to say, it wasn't a pretty outing. And Bruce Bochy said he'd have a little "chat" with Sanchez, which might have already gone down.

    "Jonny looks like he lacks concentration," Bochy said per Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "He's drifting mentally. He's got to get it going. We can't let the guy going No. 2 in the rotation go four or five innings. This was not a good day for Jonny.

    "I'd like to see him pick it up, too, his tempo, everything. He's walking guys he shouldn't be walking. Then he's got to clean it up."

    One thing you definitely do not want to see in a highly-talented but often-precocious pitcher like Sanchez is "mental drifting."

    That implies that Sanchez has, in the words of my golf buddies, "checked out early." You can't beat other Major League teams, you can't help your club win, and you sure as hell can't dominant at the big-league level if you're calling the front desk first thing in the morning.

    Such mental behavior for Sanchez isn't that shocking or whatever, if only because the guy is kind of a wild-card. He's capable of throwing up monster numbers for one half of a season and then imploding immediately after the All-Star Break.

    And he's been known to flip the script and straighten his game out in the second half, without any real indication such straightening was coming.

    He's also thrown a no-hitter for the Giants (something that probably makes it difficult to ever consider moving him) and if you check out his Baseball Reference page, he draws comparables to both Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer.

    All that being said, he really seemed to put it all together in 2010, posting his first winning record to go along with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP (both career lows), not to mention 205 strikeouts in 193 innings.

    Thus far in 2011, the ERA (3.55) and win-loss record (2-2) aren't Jekyll-Sanchez, but the 1.447 WHIP, and league-leading 26 walks (in 38 innings) are, and they're a pretty terrifying indication of the drift that's going on.

    It's something that needs to be addressed, preferably behind closed doors with Bochy, and straightened out. If that happens, and the older, dominant Sanchez shows back up, it'd be a lot easier for the Giants to rip off a winning streak.