Sánchez brings power arm to Tiger rotation

New Tiger starter Anibal Sanchez struck out 202 batters in 2011, and threw a no-hitter in 2007.

As if it wasn’t hard enough for opposing batters to face Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers have added another power arm to their rotation with the acquisition Monday of right-hander Anibal Sánchez.

Sánchez, a bull-like Venezuelan who can whip the ball to the plate at speeds of 95 MPH, can at times be one of the nastiest hurlers in the game. Like JV, Sanchez has a no-hitter on his resumé. Like Verlander, Sánchez has experience as the ace of a pitching staff, and he also has a knack for racking up K’s – he fanned 14 in a game against the Diamondbacks in April and he topped 200 strikeouts last season for Miami.

But there’s been one thing missing in Sánchez’s career – a good club on the field with him. He’s only been on one winning team in his seven seasons as a Marlin, and he leaves a team 11 games out of first and floundering.

Sánchez has been a hard luck pitcher in 2012. In his first ten starts of the season he allowed more than two earned runs only twice, yet he had just a 3-3 record to show for his 2.56 ERA. He struggled a little in June and as a result his ERA crept over 4.00, but he has put together three consecutive starts of at least six innings and three earned runs or less. Impressively, he has 14 quality starts this season, a figure that trails only JV on the Detroit staff.

With Max Scherzer leading the American League in K’s per nine innings and with JV being JV, the acquisition of Sánchez gives Detroit three power pitchers to go along with the healthy Doug Fister and sinkerballing Rick Porcello. The Tigers haven’t had three studs in their rotation who could send batters down whiffing like this since the late 1960s when they trotted out Mickey Lolich, Denny McLain, and Earl Wilson. If Sánchez can pitch as well for the Tigers as he has for the Fish, he should be able to easily double his win total of five. He takes the spot of Turner in the Detroit rotation, which will also help keep the bullpen rested, since he is capable of going into the 7th innings, something Sánchez has done 13 times this season.

It may take 3-4 years before we know if the Tigers gave up too much for Sanchez and Omar Infante (the other parcel that GM Dave Dombrowski had delivered from Miami), but for now, the Tigers are doing what seems to make sense – going for it while they have the chance. The right arm of Anibal Sánchez could be a powerful part of any Detroit run at the World Series crown.

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