Braves manager Brian Snitker was encouraged Friday that starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, knocked out of Thursday’s game when struck in the leg by a batted ball in the second inning, might be able to take his next turn in the rotation as scheduled.
Sanchez’s availability still hinges on how his bruised left calf feels through the weekend, but it would be a boost for the Braves if he avoids missing a start, especially with the team in a stretch of 22 games in 20 days.
“He came in (Friday) considerably better,” Snitker said. “So right now, unless he … relapses, he’s planning on making his next start.”
That could fall as early as Tuesday against the Miami Marlins, if the Braves use him with four days’ rest.
Sanchez was struck by a hard-hit one-hopper off the bat of the Nationals’ Michael Taylor to end the second inning Thursday. Sanchez threw out Taylor at first base, but did not return to the mound in the next inning. He was limping noticeably in the clubhouse after the game, but was getting around better the next day.
Sanchez wasn’t available for comment Friday. After Thursday’s game, he told reporters: “I’m going to work with the trainers, and I think right now and probably (Friday) will be the worst part. … Because it’s the front leg, I’ll probably be able to pitch in five or six days depending on the rotation that we’re going to have.”
Sanchez is 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 15 starts for the Braves this season.
With Max Fried and Brandon McCarthy on the disabled list, the Braves are thin on starting pitchers for the coming stretch of games, even after the July 31 acquisition of Kevin Gausman, who made his second start for Atlanta on Friday night against the Milwaukee Brewers at SunTrust Park.
Julio Teheran and Sean Newcomb are scheduled to start against the Brewers on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and Mike Foltynewicz will start one game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Marlins. Snitker said “not yet” when asked if a decision has been made on the starter for Monday’s other game.
However, Gwinnett pitcher Touki Toussaint – one of the Braves’ highly touted prospects -- appears a likely option after he was scratched from his scheduled start Friday night for the Stripers.
After Sanchez left Thursday’s game, the Braves got five innings of work from relief pitcher Wes Parsons and one inning from Adam McCreery, both of whom made their major-league debuts. Both were optioned to Gwinnett after Thursday’s game and replaced on the Atlanta roster Friday by right-hander Chad Sobotka and left-hander Chad Bell, both promoted from Gwinnett as the Braves continue to seek fresh arms for the bullpen.
If Sobotka and Bell appear in games, they would be the 31st and 32nd pitchers used by the Braves this season.
The 6-foot-7 Sobotka, 25, a fourth-round draft pick by the Braves in 2014, has a 2.14 ERA in 41 appearances this season across three levels of the Braves’ minor-league system. Bell, 29, has appeared in 31 major-league games, all with the Detroit Tigers.
Friday’s game opened an 11-game homestand for the Braves, their longest of the season. Following the weekend series against the Brewers, the Braves have four games against the Marlins and four against the Colorado Rockies next week.
“Hopefully we can kind of get settled in,” Snitker said. “It’ll be nice to be at home for an extended period.”
Thirty of the Braves’ final 50 games are at home, a potential advantage in what nevertheless will be a grueling schedule down the stretch. But entering Friday’s game, the Braves had a slightly better record on the road (34-27, .557 winning percentage) than at SunTrust Park (28-23, .549 winning percentage) this season.
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