When you have the type of big-name starters the Detroit Tigers do, it’s easy to lose track of Anibal Sanchez. You may think Sanchez being placed as the third starter in the rotation may be a demotion from what arguably was a season that deserves to be placed right up there with Max Scherzer‘s, but Sanchez’s importance to the Tigers has only increased.
With the Tigers being on the road in the first two games, the likelihood of a 1-1 series heading back to Detroit against the Oakland Athletics is extremely high, and Game 3 could be the swing game in the series. Sanchez will be the one pitching that game.
In fact, the move to make Sanchez the third pitcher in this series could not be anymore flattering if Jim Leyland tried. Justin Verlander pitching Game 2 was not because Leyland feels like Verlander is the better, more trusted pitcher, but rather that Verlander’s inconsistencies fit better at a Game 2 stage where you could afford a stumble without losing the entire series.
Also, Verlander fits better in Oakland where he has had pretty incredible success over the past few years in that ballpark.
Sanchez is so trusted that he will either be the swing pitcher, or the one who can end or save the series. A lot of attention always goes to the ace and secondary starter, but it is the third start that is meant to be the anchor of the staff and it comes with the ultimate pressure. Sanchez is going to be a huge part of this series, whether people choose to focus on him or not. That has been a good thing for the Tigers this season.