DETROIT — Any expectations that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus will call on Anibal Sanchez for a longer period of time after Friday's two innings of flawless work are sure to be met with disappointment. Ausmus said that Sanchez would remain on a pitch count similar to Friday, as well as a limitation of two innings of work.
Sanchez shut down the Orioles for two innings and only 30 pitches on Friday, not walking a batter or allowing a hit. Before the postseason Sanchez had just one simulated game and one inning of real game exposure before the Tigers headed to Baltimore for Game 1 of the ALDS.
The option to keep Sanchez on a limit of two innings isn't anything new though. Ausmus has consistently stated that he would keep Sanchez limited to about two innings since it was announced that Sanchez would return in time to finish the season.
"I think probably about ten days ago you asked me how Sanchez was going to be used and I told you I wouldn't be afraid to use him in a tight game and he certainly could pitch one inning and probably two," Ausmus said. "So I've said it for a week and a half."
Because Sanchez returned from the right pectoral strain injury so close to the end of the season, Ausmus has been limited in how much he can use Sanchez, including when the Tigers needed him the most. After Sanchez was pulled on Friday, the Tigers' bullpen went on to drop a 6-3 lead the team held going into the eighth inning.
Now, the Tigers are one game away from not making it past the first series in the postseason after being favored by many — before and after the regular season — to take the World Series title.
Also related to pitching side of things is the fact that Ausmus has precious few options to turn to if David Price is unable to go deep. Al Alburquerque, Kyle Lobstein, and Joe Nathan have yet to appear in a postseason game, so they're well rested.
However, Ausmus maintained the status quo in that he won't discuss how the bullpen will be used or who is available. Saturday and Sunday were no different. While he acknowledged that Sanchez is available to pitch if needed, he would not go into anymore specifics about the bullpen, stating only that he'd spoken to the relievers on Saturday.
"Yeah, I've talked to them," Ausmus said. "I'm not going to get into the details of my conversations with them, but I've talked to them."
If the Tigers are unable to take Sunday's game, it will be a short-lived conversation and the Tigers' quest for a World Series title will be over. Because of the bullpen's struggles, the Tigers need Price to pitch as long as possible. However, Ausmus said that barring extra innings, Max Scherzer would likely not be a relief option for Game 3.