Game 16: The conundrum with Anibal Sanchez

Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers tweaked his delivery in Spring Training, removing the hip turn, knowing it was going to be an adjustment for him. Pitchers don’t usually make major changes like that this deep into their careers without a rough transition.

They also made the change believing it’ll be better for him in the long run, eliminating extra movement while allowing him to better control the running game. Former pitching coach Jeff Jones brought up the idea last year, and Sanchez embraced it after his shoulder issue ended his 2015 season early.

He felt the difference immediately when he finally got to use it in a game last month during Spring Training, and he still feels healthy through all his pitches. Pitchingwise, however, it’s a struggle, none bigger than Saturday against the Indians.

“I’ve been doing work with my mechanics through Spring Training, through the rainout,” Sanchez said. “I don’t know. I feel sometimes good, and other times it’s no good. There’s no blame. I’m struggling locationwise. I’m playing against a big-league team that took advantage of all my mistakes. Especially when you’re around the zone with all your pitches and you don’t hit the corners or side or side, change the speed or something like that, I think they take advantage of that.”

His frustration is evident. But at this point, he has to see it through, trying to figure out what tweak can make it work.

“I’ll keep working. I’m not going to stop right now,” he said. “I can turn it to the other side. I can be as good as I was before. I cannot stop here. I need to continue to work. I need to continue to do my job. I need to continue to be on the mound every five days and put more and more effort there.”

He’s had varying levels of frustration with each outing this season. When he took scoreless outings into the sixth inning in Miami and Pittsburgh before two-run sixths knocked him out, he lamented his inefficient pitch counts and talked about breaking through the third trip through a lineup. His two outings since have seen opponents torment him from the first inning — 25 pitches last Sunday in Houston, then a 32-pitch first inning against the Indians Saturday.

All three first-inning hits came after Sanchez got ahead of hitters into two-strike counts. Yan Gomes’ bloop single came on a 1-2 offering. Jose Ramirez’s grounder through the middle followed an 0-2 count that he worked back to even.

“They had three runs on the board, and it’s not like they hit a ball hard,” Brad Ausmus said.

Still, both reflected a struggle to finish off hitters. Only one of Sanchez’s 32 first-inning pitches drew a swing and miss. For Sanchez, it’s about location.

“I’ve been doing work for like since Spring Training started, hard as I can,” he said. “I just want to be consistent in the strike zone. That’s always my conversation with you guys after every game, no matter if I feel good or bad. I just want to be consistent in the strike zone. Today was bad luck, like Brad says, but at the end, I have to be able to be on the mound for longer than today.”

It’s not like Mike Pelfrey and Francisco Rodriguez saying they’re embarrassed by their outings, but that’s not Sanchez’s style. At the same time, he’s clear he’s not the pitcher he wants to be, the pitcher he was a few years ago. He still believes he can get back towards that form as long as he’s healthy.

He doesn’t have to be dominant. But he needs to be consistent, not just for himself but for the Tigers rotation. The belief remains that the quieter delivery is the one that’s more likely to get him back there, even though the adjustment to it has him struggling so far.

“I just want to keep working,” he said. “I just want to do some adjustment for my next outing. I need to stop right now. I need to stop the whole bad history about location. I’m used to being a really good location guy. I’m not like that kind of pitcher last year and this year. It’s like something’s wrong. Something’s happened every outing. I just want to stop that. I just want to think positive for my next outing, keep working, keep preparing as hard as I can and do my best and do something for my next outing.”

He’ll get that outing, and more after that. He’s under contract this year and next. Moreover, the Tigers need him to be that consistent veteran in the middle of their rotation. As difficult as it is, if they believe it’ll make a difference, they have to put up with the struggle.

18 Comments

“No different than 2014 or 2015,” Ausmus said. “Same thing happened. Quick start, we’re the best team on the planet. Struggled a little bit, we’ll never win again. There’s gotta be middle ground, I would think.”
one: they went to the play-off in 2014 as long as I remember
two: 14.15.16. Only factor in common?Him

A major change in a couple of games.
“it’ll be better for him in the long run, eliminating extra movement while allowing him to better control the running game” messing around only for the running game? For his health is OK but only to avoid a couple of SB?

Anibal? Let him be; let him figure it out. If he doesn’t he’done. The math is simple.
Our problem was the alleged strength in the rotation. If Anibal is no longer effective how do your replace him? Fulmer is struggling at AAA. Norris is struggling at AA.
Greene is not green nor any other happy colour I can think of
We have problems

He is owed 38.6 MM. A little too much to eat

Amen to the Sanchez comment. Hopefully, he can resurrect his career along with Pelfrey. JV looks decent to me with 3 QS in 4 starts coming off a very solid second half last season. Greene is coming off an injury from 2015 and has had a couple of nice performances this year coupled with a very decent ST. Of course, the jury is still out on him. JZ has been Mr. Dependable bordering on Mr. Fantastic. The question about him is how long he can continue to deal his sort of magic.

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Maybin injured

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If it was just Sanchez that would be one thing…but it’s all starting pitching (except Zimmerman) to varying degrees.
.
It’s Upton and Miggy and VMart who are dragging the whole lineup down to the tune of 2 runs in 27 innings. And your fill in back up catcher is responsible for those. Is this a deep funk or a continuation of last year?

I guess only time will tell.

Isolated Power (ISO) is a measure of a hitter’s raw power and tells you how often a player hits for extra bases. Kinsler 214 . Victor 204. JD 150, Cantellanos 164.
Facts, just facts. the clean-up hitter is doing what he is paid for.

You asked, Brad provides: Tigers lineup: Kinsler 2b, Iglesias ss, VMart dh, JDMart rf, Castellanos 3b, Saltalamacchia c, Aviles lf, Romine 1b, Gose cf. Greene p.

So much for the oft quoted “depth” on our bench.
Aviles and Romine? C’mon!
Now heap a little KRod drama on top of things just to add to the dysfunction.

Being the set-up, Lowe ,closer?

Lowe and JW to close. AW and VH to setup.

Lineup shakeup hopefully proves to be good for a few guys and for JUp and Cabrera to regroup. Do we go above .500? Just get the lead early for once and then hold ’em!

This one is gonna be real ugly.

Maybin must have bad Karma. The guy just can’t get a break (no pun intended).
CF is going to be a hole in our lineup all year.

Oh Miggy.
Romine & Gose due up. Where is Eddie Gaedel when you need him?

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