Hours after allowing six runs on eight hits in a start against the Los Angeles Angels, Anibal Sanchez is a starter no more. Manager Brad Ausmus told reporters Wednesday that Sanchez will be moved to the bullpen, a shake-up that many called for yet few truly expected until Sanchez's latest blow-up. The Tigers have not yet announced a starter for Sanchez's place in the rotation, but lefthander Matt Boyd will soon be displaced with Jordan Zimmermann returning to action on Friday.
Sanchez was viewed by many as one of the keys to the Tigers' postseason chances in 2016. Coming off an effective but injury-plagued 2014 season, Sanchez imploded last year, allowing a 4.99 ERA and league-high 29 home runs in 157 innings. It was not until late in the year that Sanchez was shelved for yet another shoulder issue.
The Tigers expected Sanchez to help anchor their starting rotation in 2016, but he has done anything but, allowing a 6.67 ERA and 1.68 WHIP through his first 11 starts. He has given up a league-high 14 home runs in 56 2/3 innings, including three long balls on Tuesday against the Angels. Dating back to 2015, Sanchez has now allowed 43 home runs in 213 2/3 innings after coughing up just 13 dingers in 2013 and 2014 combined.
Sanchez took the move in stride, telling reporters "I know they want to do the right thing for the team. But I am going to take my job back...I am a strong man and I am going to work to get back into the rotation."
Ausmus told reporters that Sanchez would work in lower leverage situations at first. He was hopeful that the 32-year-old righthander would be able to fix his mechanics with the more frequent throwing sessions pitching out of the bullpen provides.
With the Tigers starting both Boyd and Zimmermann this week -- giving them a six-man rotation, effectively -- their rotation appears to be set in the short term. Zimmermann, Mike Pelfrey, and Justin Verlander are scheduled to start against the Chicago White Sox this weekend, and Michael Fulmer would be able to take Sanchez's turn in the rotation on Monday on regular rest. Righthander Shane Greene is inching closer to his return from a blister injury, and lefty Daniel Norris has also pitched well in the minors, giving Boyd plenty of competition for the now-vacant spot in the rotation.