Detroit Tigers: Potential Anibal Sanchez Replacements

Mar 29, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) in the dugout looks on between inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) in the dugout looks on between inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers pitchers have been up and down in 2016. Jordan Zimmermann has been excellent, while Michael Fulmer and Justin Verlander have been solid. However, Anibal Sanchez has struggled.

Detroit Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez hasn’t had the best start to his season. The 32-year-old is just 3-5 with an eye sore of a 6.23 ERA. His 5.50 FIP in 47.2 innings pitched isn’t much better. Sanchez has already allowed nine home runs in nine starts this season. From 2013 to 2014, he only gave up 13 total homers.

One of the former Marlin’s biggest issues has been when he gets deeper into games. Opponents are hitting .381 off Sanchez in the sixth inning, and .667 off him in the seventh.

Sanchez hasn’t looked awful before the sixth or seventh, but tends to fall apart during those innings.

Considering how he’s struggled to pitch deep into games and stay in the yard, a move to the bullpen could suit the veteran. The right-hander has always had good stuff, be he hasn’t been able to put it all together since the 2014 season.

Sanchez’s stuff would certainly play up in the bullpen, where he could potentially thrive in shorter outings. He could find success as a swingman as well, pitching multiple innings or making a spot start or two.

The question then becomes, who would take his place in the rotation? Warwick Saupold is an in-house option already on the Major League roster. The Australian pitcher has 77 career starts in the minors, including four this season. However, Detroit may feel more comfortable keeping him in the bullpen, where he has yet to allow a run in two appearances.

In addition to Saupold, the Tigers could turn to a pair of pitcher with experience at the Triple-A level this season.

Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris, both acquired in the David Price blockbuster, are fits.

So far this season, Boyd has been the much better of the two, with a 2.06 ERA and 41 strikeouts in eight starts. Those eight starts have totaled 48 innings. The native of Bellevue, Washington also made a brief appearance out of the bullpen for Detroit this season.

In 4.2 innings of relief, the 25-year-old allowed just three walks and two hits while holding Cleveland scoreless. For that outing alone, Boyd’s WAR jumped to 0.3. Entering Saturday, that had him level with J.D. Martinez and ahead of Francisco Rodriguez where WAR numbers are concerned.

Boyd finally seems to be figuring it out this season. All he needs is an opportunity, and he might just stick in the rotation.

Norris has had less success with Toledo, but could still make an impact. The starter has a 8.06 ERA in five starts covering 22.1 innings pitched. Despite the high number of runs, the 23-year-old does have 23 strikeouts.

Like Boyd, he too was called up to the Tigers for a brief relief appearance.

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Norris threw a scoreless inning in a loss to Baltimore. While he walked a batter, the pitcher’s off-speed pitches looked good in the limited outing.

Even though he’s struggled at the Triple-A level, the lefty posted a 3.68 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 36.2 innings for Detroit down the stretch in 2015. If he can find that form, he’d be a welcome addition to the rotation.

Shane Greene

When healthy, Shane Greene will give Brad Ausmus another option in the rotation.

Greene’s season has been a mixed bag so far. One hand, his 3.65 FIP is much easier on the eyes than his 6.28 ERA. On the other hand, his ERA is still 6.28.

The former Yankee looked sharp against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a mid-April start, allowing only three walks, three hits and a pair of runs in six innings. During that start Greene induced 13 swinging strikes. Thanks to those 13 swing-and-miss pitches, the starter was able to rack up seven strikeouts.

Things didn’t end as well in his next start, the Royals tagged the 27-year-old for seven runs, six hits and four walks. If Greene can perform at a similar rate to how he pitched in Pittsburgh, the Tigers will be in good hands.

Next: Patience is Paying Off

Trade Candidates

There’s always the trade market in terms of adding players. There are still some pitchers that the Detroit Tigers could conceivably acquire that could help the back end of the rotation. The good news is that the Tigers have the depth to even consider moving Anibal Sanchez to the bullpen. After a season of struggles in 2015, it’s nice to have some depth to work with.