Mar 9, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) warms up before the start of the spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Anibal Sanchez is the forgotten man when it comes to the Detroit Tigers’ starting rotation. Tigers fans have been curious about newcomers Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon this winter, Justin Verlander and his performance has been a topic of great debate, and David Price’s future with the team have all been discussed at length this offseason. Sanchez, one of the best middle of the rotation men in baseball, is overlooked in the Tigers’ rotation.
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At the 2013 trade deadline, the Tigers made an under the radar move to acquire Anibal Sanchez from the Miami Marlins for Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner. Tigers fans may have known that Sanchez had a no hitter while with the Marlins, but not much else about him.
Tigers fans did not know they were getting one of the most underrated pitchers in the game when they acquired Sanchez. When he arrived in Detroit, Sanchez only went 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.286 WHIP in 12 starts. The Tigers then matched the Chicago Cubs’ offer and signed Sanchez to a 5-year $80 million contract. At the time, I thought that was too much for a 3rd or fourth pitcher, but Sanchez has more than earner his contract since he signed it.
In 2013, Sanchez could have won the Cy Young award if it weren’t for Max Scherzer. Sanchez won the ERA crown that year with his 2.57 ERA and 1.154 WHIP. He finished the season 14-8 and only made 29 starts due to injuries, but Sanchez was incredibly effective while he was healthy.
2014 was more of the same kind of stuff from Sanchez. He was hampered by injuries only making 21 starts, but was effective while he was healthy. Sanchez was 8-5 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.095 WHIP. He only made 6 starts after the all-star break before he had a pectoral strain which held him out most of September and October.
The key for Sanchez in 2015 is his health. ZiPS projects Sanchez to only make 25 starts in 2015 and have a 3.43 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and a 3.11 FIP. The Tigers already have question marks in Greene, Simon, and Verlander and they need Sanchez to stay healthy so he can be a steady, reliable starter every fifth day.
Sanchez is the steadying force on this pitching staff. He has the potential to no-hit the opponent on any given day, and will most likely give the Tigers 6+ innings of solid ball to keep them in the game. If Sanchez goes down with an injury and the Tigers are left with David Price and four question marks, the Tigers could have some trouble getting the games into the late innings to the bullpen which is even more unreliable than the starting staff.