When the names Detroit Tigers came into the season, there was a question on whether Justin Verlander or reigning Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer was the team’s ace. Well, so far this season that question has been answered and it turns out it is neither of them.
Anibal Sanchez has been the team’s best starting pitcher and it is not even close. Sanchez proved that point again when dominating American League Central rival Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park Thursday. Sanchez allowed one run on five hits and a walk. He picked up his fourth win of the season in the Tigers’ 2-1 victory. Miguel Cabrera drove in Detroit’s first run with a double in the fourth and J.D. Martinez soon followed with a solo shot.
Sanchez now has a 2.33 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93. His record of 4-2 may not indicate just how well he has pitched to the old-school types, but his WAR of 2.3 and batting average against of .182 stand up to nearly anyone. Those numbers actually should put Sanchez in the AL Cy Young discussion.
Compared to the other starters, Sanchez looks like he should have been thrown into the ace talk before the season. His ERA easily clears Verlander (4.98) and Scherzer (3.84). He also is dominating the duo in BAA — Scherzer has a decent mark of .251, but Verlander is getting crushed by anyone and everyone at .285.
Sanchez is probably better off not hearing this kind of talk. He has been a reliable starter for a while now and he does not need to let this go to his head. However, if the Tigers are to keep pace with the red hot Royals, he will have to quietly face the facts and become the stopper the other two hurlers have been this season.