Detroit Tigers: Anibal Sanchez – Just Cruising Along
As a Detroit Tigers fan, I have had the pleasure of watching several pitchers make their way through the system. Many have been a complete joy to watch and others – well, not so much.
One that is a complete joy to watch is Anibal Sanchez.
Today’s outing against the Pirates showed exactly why Sanchez is so entertaining. His ability to stymie batters by using that one arm slot over and over again is what makes him such a good pitcher.
Despite the fact that he only pitched in 5.2 innings, he pitched well. He threw four strikes outs, gave up three base-on-balls, four hits, and a two-run home run. The last two hits came after a serious of strikeouts and groundouts that showed Sanchez’s mastery of what Jim Price calls “The Art of Pitching.”
I love watching Sanchez pitch because he is so good at mixing up speeds. It is common knowledge that he is not a pitcher with lights-out speed, but he is certain to surprise with nearly every pitch. In the game against the Pirates today, during the fourth inning, he was able to get a fly out from Gregory Polanco with three pitches that ranged from 91 mph, 79 mph, and 89 mph. He threw a sinker, curveball, and slider – and every single one looked exactly the same coming out of his arm slot.
How are batters supposed to have any idea what he is sending their way?
Yes, I’m impressed with the 100 mph fastball. Who isn’t? But, I am more impressed with a pitcher who can maneuver that ball over the 17 inches of the plate. Being able to get an ugly swing and miss from players like Andrew McCutchen is impressive. Sanchez threw four pitches to McCutchen in the sixth inning. Those four pitches were 84, 92, 72, and 67 mph. McCutchen swung and missed all but the third pitch. Imagine his dismay when he learned that he missed a 67-mph slowball. Sixty-seven miles per hour. Two pitches after throwing 92. Amazing.
Of course, pitchers are coached to throw without giving away any signs, but in my opinion, no one on the current Detroit Tigers team does that better than Sanchez. And, no one does it with the simplicity that Sanchez does. So many pitchers have a windup that is almost violent in its execution, but not Sanchez. His windup is so smooth that it almost looks like he is throwing batting practice (which he actually did in plenty of games in 2015). When the ball leaves his hand, the ball just seems to float in.
Next: The Proven Loyalty of Detroit Tigers Fans
During the Pirates game, Sanchez was described as “…just cruising along” until Starling Marte hit his two-run home run. That description fits the way that Sanchez throws – a simple cruise.
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