The anti-climatic announcement is official: Detroit Tigers slumping pitcher Anibal Sanchez has officially been moved to the bullpen.
While the announcement should have been made a few starts ago, it is a welcome decision by the often-criticized Brad Ausmus and Al Avila.
The decision was made after a disappointing 2015 and 2016 season for the pitcher who once dominated the American League in ERA with a 2.57 in 2013. In his last game as a starter, Sanchez threw 64 pitches, gave up 3 home runs, walked 2 and struck out no one. As a starting pitcher, he is currently leading the AL in the number of home runs he has allowed, a frighteningly high total of 11 – which is exactly how many games he has pitched in, too.
The decision was announced by Brad Ausmus and immediately made available on social media. It also immediately raises the question about who will take Sanchez’s spot in the struggling rotation.
The first name that comes to mind is Matt Boyd, who pitched just a few days ago. According to Jason Beck with MLB, Boyd will be starting in the game on June 2 against the New York Yankees. This game was postponed in April due to poor weather. Zimmermann plans to pitch on Friday when the White Sox come to town.
Boyd’s first start was in Oakland on May 28. He gave up three runs in five innings of work. Prior to his arrival with the Tigers, he posted a 2.79 ERA in three games with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. The 25-year-old left-handed pitcher might just get to keep the job until he gives up too many runs, or someone else can out-duel him, like Daniel Norris or Shane Greene.
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Greene is still pitching rehab in Toledo and he even pitched a game for the Single-A West Michigan White Caps. In his last three rehab starts, he has pitched a total of 11 innings and has a 0.82 ERA. He will be stiff competition for Boyd.
The other potential replacement is Daniel Norris. His rehab stats in Toledo have not been as stellar as Greene’s. The 23-year-old has an ERA of 5.49 in the 39 innings he has with the Mud Hens. Even though he is a fan favorite, it is likely that he will remain in Toledo for more personalized coaching.
Michael Fulmer does not appear to be leaving Detroit anytime soon, especially with his outstanding performances as a rookie pitcher. He has fit right in during his six starts with the Tigers. He has a 5-1 record and a respectable 3.97 ERA. The team has given him the necessary run support. The rotation spot he is filling appears to be his to lose.