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MLB Opening Day 2017: Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez to start season in bullpen

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Lefthander Matt Boyd will be the Tigers’ fifth starter to open the season.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Detroit Tigers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a late charge, including six no-hit innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, righthander Anibal Sanchez will begin the season in the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Sanchez and Matt Boyd were the frontrunners for the last spot in the Tigers’ starting rotation, leaving Boyd the likely fifth starter come Opening Day next week.

While Sanchez has pitched better of late, he has been a major liability for the Tigers in the past couple seasons. Since the start of 2015, Sanchez has allowed a 5.42 ERA and 4.90 FIP in 310 13 innings of work. He has given up a whopping 59 home runs during that stretch, the highest total in Major League Baseball. His overall numbers during spring training aren’t much better; Sanchez has a 5.03 ERA and four home runs allowed in 19 23 innings.

Meanwhile, Boyd was an anchor for the Tigers for much of last season. He allowed a 4.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 97 13 innings, figures that would have been better if not for a disaster of a final start against the Kansas City Royals on September 25. Boyd has arguably been the Tigers’ best starter this spring, with a 2.49 ERA and 21 strikeout to zero walks in 21 23 innings. He has also had trouble with home runs in the past two seasons, but has yet to allow a homer this spring.

With Sanchez moving to the bullpen, eyes now shift towards Mike Pelfrey, who is owed $8 million this season. The Tigers are unlikely to keep both Sanchez and Pelfrey in the bullpen during the regular season, and Pelfrey’s brutal spring — 12 runs allowed on 18 hits in 14 23 innings — and cheaper salary has made him expendable. According to Fenech, the Tigers are willing to eat Pelfrey’s salary in a trade, but no tangible trade rumors have yet surfaced.

Barring a change in status for any of the Tigers’ other starters, Boyd’s first start of the season will come at home against the Boston Red Sox. If the Tigers keep Opening Day starter Justin Verlander on regular rest, Boyd would first start on Sunday, April 9. If Verlander gets an extra day off — the likely scenario, so to break up him and Michael Fulmer in the rotation — Boyd would start on Saturday, April 8.

Opening Day 2017 Preview!

Nai-post ni Bless You Boys: For Detroit Tigers Fans noong Miyerkules, Marso 29, 2017