The Detroit Tigers bullpen stinks. That has been a common theme over the past seasons in the Motor City and there was hope that this year might be different after releasing Mark Lowe and Mike Pelfrey, but through the first 2 weeks of the season, the same theme has emerged. It seemed the only reliever who hadn’t struggled was Joe Jimenez, who pitched 1 perfect inning before being demoted back to Toledo.
At the start of the season, the Tigers front office let it be known that ineffectiveness would not be tolerated as Bruce Rondon was demoted after throwing 1 1/3 innings over 3 games and gave up 6 earned runs. But then Anibal Sanchez was even worse over the following days, yet Jimenez was the one sent south on I-75 and not Sanchez.
The worst part of it all is that Sanchez has not pitched in high pressure situations. He has been brought in when the Tigers are already down several runs, and he buries them into a nearly impossible hole to dig out of. On Saturday afternoon against the Cleveland Indians, the Tigers found themselves down big early in the game, but were able to chip away at the lead to make it a close ballgame towards the end. Then Anibal Sanchez came out of the bullpen and gave up 4 earned runs and left the Tigers without enough time to climb back into the game.
These struggles are nothing new for Anibal Sanchez, but one has to wonder how much longer he can go before the Tigers front office does something about it. Sanchez is currently being paid $16 million, which prompted a Tigers fan to start a GoFundMe to raise $5 million, which is needed to buy out Sanchez’s contract.
Sanchez seemed to have regained his form in the second half of Spring Training after extensive work with pitching coach Rich Dubee, but that success has not carried over to the regular season. The Major Leagues is not the place to be testing out someone that costs $16 million, because he also costs the team wins. Sanchez would look much better in a uniform like the Toledo Mud Hens. After this weekend, the Indians have shown that they will be competitive in the division again this year and the other 3 teams have all played at or above .500 through the first two weeks of the season. If the Tigers want to play meaningful games in September and October this year, they need to do something about Anibal Sanchez in April, or he will be a massive liability for the team through the remainder of the year.