The move, which can’t be too surprising given how Sanchez has thrown for the last few years in a Tigers uniform, shows a lot about who he really is, and how much the Tigers value him.
Detroit Tigers Send Anibal Sanchez to Triple-A Toledo
For far too long it seemed, the Tigers stuck with Sanchez, despite being used as a mop-up man for better or worse out of the bullpen. He couldn’t be trusted in close games, and just didn’t seem to have that nasty stuff he flashed just seasons ago. Regardless, they stuck with him.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported on Monday that it was Sanchez who wanted to join the Mud Hens, hopefully working his way back as a starting pitcher. The Tigers reportedly obliged in a meeting over the weekend, and made the move days later.
In 11 appearances this season, the 33-year old has an ERA of 9.00 in 21 innings of work. He’s allowed 34 hits, nine of them in home run fashion, while opponents bat .351 against him. Safe to say he wasn’t fooling anyone.
Last season, in which he began the year in the starting rotation, he finished 7-13 with a career-worst 5.87 ERA. He was eventually moved to the bullpen, where the team struggled to find a place for him to pitch effectively and consistently.
Sanchez the reliever didn’t enjoy the same success as Sanchez the starter once did. In 2013, he posted a dazzling 14-8 record to complement his league-best 2.57 ERA. Detroit boasted one of the best rotations in all of baseball on their way to an ALCS run, and Sanchez was right in the middle of it.
He was once a promising young pitcher in the Florida Marlins organization. As a rookie in 2006, he made 17 starts, winning 10 and holding opponents to a career-best .217 average in 114.1 innings logged. He spent the next six seasons in Florida before being traded to the contending Tigers in the summer of 2012.
Sanchez did for the Tigers what he did for the Marlins; consistently take the mound and compete, and was no stranger to pitching deep into games for his club. General Manager Dave Dombrowski liked what he saw in Sanchez’s two-month audition for the Tigers in 2012, and signed him to a five-year deal worth $80 million that winter.
Ever since being handed the contract and his ridiculous 2013 campaign, Sanchez has slowly faded away from his brief stint of stardom. He’s bounced around the rotation and bullpen, and just can’t find a way to pitch consistently. His HR/9 allowed has ballooned as his career has gone on, which now sits at 3.86 per nine innings.
Despite his struggles, the Tigers never seemed ready to part ways with their once dominant pitcher. Maybe it was the track record they favored, or what he means to the club off the field, but they finally made their move on Monday.
Not every ballplayer can do what Sanchez decided what was best to do; to step away from the big league club for an extended period of time and putting his pride aside. He feels he can help the team best as a starting pitcher, so he’ll try it out with the Mud Hens beginning tomorrow.
There’s a reason as to why he’s still wearing the Old English D. The Tigers still see value in him, and Sanchez believes he can still contribute to at the big-league level.
Let’s hope they’re right. Tigers fans surely wouldn’t complain if Sanchez figured it out again and pitched to the tune of his 2012 and 2013 seasons.