Anibal Sanchez has been a disappointment for the Detroit Tigers in the past few years. Is it time to cut their losses and let him go?
There are a lot of Tiger fans thinking “it’s about stinkin’ time!”
Granted, Sanchez isn’t the only Detroit Starting pitcher to struggle out of the gate. Justin Verlander hasn’t had a dominating season in several years now, and rookie Michael Fulmer hadn’t been solid until Wednesday when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels.
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But Verlander is showing signs of life, while Sanchez continues to get tagged.In his 11 starts Sanchez is 3-6, had given up 66 hits in 56-2/3 innings. He set a career-high by giving up 29 homers all of last season, and is well ahead of pace, having surrendered 14 long balls in 2016. His ERA of 6.67 is more than three runs higher than his career-best, set back in 2013.
The proverbial straw came Tuesday when Sanchez gave up three homers in as many innings against the Angels, who won’t remind anyone of the 1927 Yankees anytime soon.
Ausmus didn’t rule out a return to the rotation, but wasn’t assuring anything, either.
“He definitely could work his way back into the starting rotation,” Ausmus said in an interview posted by Jason Beck on MLB.com. “But right now, there’s nothing promised. If people in the rotation are pitching well, they’re going to stay there. Hopefully he can get himself right and/or become a valuable part of our bullpen.”
It’s no secret that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch wants a world championship, and much sooner than later. Sanchez is making $16.8 this season and next, with an $8 million buyout of a club option in 2018. So there are two big questions that really need to be answered. 1. Can Sanchez work his way back into the good graces of the Tiger organization, and 2. Will Detroit have the patience to do so?
Francisco Rodriguez has the closers role, with his 15 saves so far in 2016 placing him among the league leaders. Justin Wilson has been solid, with 11 holds so far this season. But each had an ERA over 3.00, which is far from dominant for closers and set-up men.
Jordan Zimmerman has been the one Detroit starter that has kept the Tigers from falling into baseball oblivion. Mike Pelfrey is 0-5 as a Tigers starter, so his role should be in some jeopardy as well.
The good news for Anibal Sanchez is the Tigers are not among the few teams that are already out of playoff contention. Barring a trade where Ilitch chows down on a bunch of salary, the Tigers don’t have a lot of options out there for a starter. So Sanchez should get another shot at the Tiger starting rotation.
The next time around, the leash will be a lot shorter.