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Should the Tigers release Anibal Sanchez?

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The Sanchez experiment is coming to a critical mass, but is it time for the Tigers to end it?

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Anibal Sanchez has not been good this year. You didn’t need me to tell you that. But do you realize just how truly awful he’s been? He has given up a home run in all but two appearances this year (two perfect innings, one each against the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins). In 14 23 innings, he has given up six home runs, walked five, and surrendered 21 runs. Twenty-one. That’s one and a half runs for every inning he’s pitched. One and a half more runs the Detroit Tigers needed to get back to win the game. And more often than not, one and a half runs that the Tigers were unable to muster.

In the first week of spring training, Kurt Mensching wrote that Sanchez’s downfall will likely continue. He wrote that not long after Sanchez’s first appearance of the spring, when Sanchez gave up four hits and walked one in one inning. For a while after that, it looked like he had bounced back and was going to be OK. Perhaps, we thought, he will at least be a reliable innings-eater. He performed well enough the rest of the spring to earn a spot on the major league roster. Since then, he’s been terrible. If you take out those two innings against Boston and Minnesota, he has given up 26 hits and eight walks in 12 23 innings. That’s over three baserunners every single inning.

It would be one thing if this was just a slump, an outlier uncharacteristic of Sanchez.

But it’s been like this — though definitely not this bad — for the last several years. In 2015, his home run per fly ball (HR/FB) ratio jumped to 16 percent, up from three percent the previous season. His ERA has climbed from 3.43 in 2014, to 4.99 in 2015, to 5.87 last season, to 9.82 so far this year. Admittedly, the season is still young and the small sample size warning is still in effect. It’s not looking good though.

There is a stat to be remotely optimistic about: Sanchez’s strikeouts per nine innings (K/9). He has struck out 9.2 hitters every nine innings, a significant improvement from 7.9 the last two seasons. While it is a positive, possibly the only one, it’s not enough of a reason to keep him on the roster when you could give his spot to someone else.

Who would that be? There’s no good answer.

That’s why Sanchez is still a Tiger. For now.

With so many of the Tigers’ key players on the disabled list (Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, JaCoby Jones), there are plenty of extra temporary roster spots for whoever the team wants with the big club right now. That will change once those players recover, and a decision on Sanchez will be more likely then. Taking that into consideration, it’s somewhat understandable that Tigers general manager Al Avila hasn’t made a move. Sanchez is set to earn $16.8 million this season. Nearly $17 million would be “wasted” if the Tigers were to give Sanchez his unconditional release. The Tigers would be paying Sanchez either to not pitch, or more likely, to pitch for another team.

What do you think?

Poll

What should the Tigers do about Anibal Sanchez?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Release him now
    (972 votes)
  • 11%
    Release him later
    (174 votes)
  • 22%
    Wait and see what happens
    (338 votes)
1484 votes total Vote Now