Jul 18, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
#3: Anibal Sanchez
For the first time since their AL Central dominance began in 2011, the Tigers had to scrap and fight to win the division near the end of the season. Usually having it wrapped up a week or two in advanced, Detroit needed to win their final regular season game last year to clinch their fourth straight divisional title.
A lot of these shenanigans had to do with the loss of Anibal Sanchez two times last year, particularly down the stretch. He didn’t start the season particularly well so when he went on the DL because of a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, it was not surprising. When he came back in May, he was one of the Tigers few bright spots during their infamous 9-19 slide.
Through the beginning of August he remained the Tigers’ most consistent starter (even more so than Scherzer and Rick Porcello who had started to cool down after an excellent start), but was removed from an August 8 game and was gone until the final series of the regular season.
The Tigers weathered the storm without him as much as possible with rookie Kyle Lobstein filling in admirably, but the team truly missed the mystique of Sanchez going every fifth day.
As we mentioned in our previous slide with Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez as the opportunity to grab the ace role for Detroit, all he needs to do for success is to stay healthy.
His 2013 year was extremely solid but was upstaged by Scherzer. He went 14-8 with an AL-best 2.57 ERA and a WHIP of 1.154. There is no reason a healthy Sanchez cannot reach those heights again and if he does, he could be the team MVP and the Tigers, as a team, would be in better shape.