It seems as though good news for the Detroit Tigers’ pitching staff is becoming increasingly rare, save for every fifth day when ace Justin Verlander takes the mound. Even then, a habitual lack of run support or one rough inning is often enough to sabotage that.
Now the club may be without Anibal Sanchez for the remainder of the year.
Sanchez, who was slated to return from the disabled list on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins, reportedly suffered a setback from the rotator cuff strain that has sidelined him for almost a month. With just over three weeks remaining in the regular season, all early signs indicate that Sanchez’ year may be over.
"At this point, I don't know if we will get any more innings out of him," manager Brad Ausmus told reporters following the club’s 7-1 loss to the Twins Tuesday night.
Sanchez, who threw a simulated game on Saturday in Cleveland, reportedly felt his rotator cuff flare up in a bullpen session Monday.
"I thought it was something that would go away,” he said, according to The Detroit News. “I was going to throw 35 pitches, but just before I finish, maybe the last three pitches before the end, I feel bad and I stop right away."
The next step?
Sanchez will visit with well-known surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday, his agent Gene Mato confirmed to ESPN.com, before determining a next step. Mato said they hope to learn more following the consult.
The loss of Sanchez, at least for the time being, means that Daniel Norris, who also went on the DL on August 19, but with an oblique injury, will handle Wednesday’s start in Minnesota for the series finale. The 22-year-old, acquired as the premier piece in a trade deadline deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for David Price, is expected to be pitch, will make his first start since being forced from the team’s 15-8 win over the Chicago Cubs, during which he hit a home run in his first career plate appearance.
What happens from there appears a bit murkier, with a number of issues complicating the team’s current pitching woes.
Starter Matt Boyd is approaching an innings limit that the Tigers are wary of surpassing. Both veteran Randy Wolf and Kyle Lobstein have struggled in recent outings (the two pitchers required 50 and 39 pitches, respectively, to get out of the first inning of their last start).
As of now, Alfredo Simon will start Tuesday’s game, with Norris slated to take the ball on Wednesday. Justin Verlander is penciled in for Friday’s series-opener against the Kansas City Royals, with Boyd and Simon to follow the next two games.
Even if everyone remains healthy through the next turn in the rotation, the team’s instability on the mound remains at the forefront of the organization’s concerns. General Manager Al Avila told ESPN.com earlier this month that starting pitching remains the top priority heading into the off-season.
If things continue as they have gone, he could have a considerable shopping list.