Anibal Sanchez takes another licking

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The Tigers struck gold in acquiring Doug Fister from the Mariners last summer. Their big pickup this July, Anibal Sanchez, isn’t working out so well.

Sanchez gave up five runs and 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings Monday to take a loss to the Twins. He was hit in the leg by a comebacker in the first inning, but that didn’t seem to have a lasting impact. Sanchez is 1-3 with a 7.97 ERA since arriving from Miami last month. His lone win in the span came against an Indians team that was on its way to losing 11 games in a row.

Sanchez has been eaten alive by the BABIP gods in his four starts for the Tigers, allowing 35 hits in 20 1/3 innings of work. That’s not to say it’s all singles and doubles doing him in, though; he’s given up five homers. His strikeout rate is also well down, with a 13/8 K/BB ratio to date. He had a 110/33 K/BB ratio in 121 innings for the Marlins.

Perhaps Sanchez has simply been too amped since the trade. He averaged 91.3 mph with his fastball for Miami this year, but he jumped to 92.5 mph in his first three starts for the Tigers. That’d seem to be a good thing under normal circumstances, but he’s also throwing his slider and changeup harder, which might mean they’re not breaking as much as usual.

At least it suggests that his arm is sound, which should mean that Sanchez will turn it around soon. With a nice finish, he’d head into the winter regarded as the No. 2 or No. 3 free agent starter available behind Zack Greinke, putting him in position to land a big contract.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.