This afternoon, the Detroit Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies. Leading the charge was Anibal Sanchez, who pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, zero walks, and recording 12 strikeouts to help the Tigers achieve a 4-0 victory. Sanchez is now 8-5 on the season with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP.
Sanchez’s strong outing today was very encouraging. He had not exactly been struggling prior to today’s start so to speak, but he had been running into a bit of trouble, particularly late in games. Perhaps today was a sign that he has now regained the dominant form Tigers fans saw on display earlier this season and throughout the entire the 2013 campaign.
Even though he recorded an AL-best 2.57 ERA in 2013, Sanchez may still be the most overlooked member of the Tigers’ rotation. Sanchez, it should be noted, also set a new franchise record by striking out 17 Atlanta Braves on Apr. 26 of 2013, and he just barely missed throwing the second no-hitter of his career against the Minnesota Twins on May 24 of last year. However, Sanchez, who first joined the Tigers in July of 2012, is part of a rotation that features 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander as well as 2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. Therefore, it is easy to see how he has been able to remain one of MLB‘s best kept secrets.
Furthermore, now that the Tigers have just added 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price to the mix, and Rick Porcello continues to put together his finest season to date, Sanchez might remain stuck under the radar to a certain extent. However, that certainly does not seem to bother him. Most importantly, he is, and will continue to be, a vital part of the Tigers’ pitching staff, regardless of the fact that he may not get the attention he deserves.
Given that there are still questions about Verlander this season, Sanchez being on top of his game could become increasingly important. Verlander was better in his most recent start against the Rockies Friday night, but he is still only 10-9 with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP, which are numbers that must improve before fans feel confident that the Verlander of old has returned.
If Verlander hits another rough patch, but Sanchez continues to pitch like he did this afternoon, then the Tigers will still have the luxury of having four rock-solid starting pitchers going forward. At this point, however, it does seem to be a foregone conclusion that Porcello will be the one bumped to the bullpen in the postseason, if the Tigers are fortunate enough to get there, making a playoff rotation of Price, Scherzer, Sanchez and Verlander.
At any rate, the Tigers’ rotation is obviously loaded with talent, even more so now than it was before, but Sanchez went out and showed today that he should not be forgotten about. Even though Sanchez can be overshadowed, today was evidence that he can be as good as anyone at times. Even though the Tigers have a few heavyweights on their staff to say the very least, Sanchez is still a crucial part of the puzzle.