Anibal Sanchez could return as a reliever

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Anibal Sanchez landed on the disabled list five weeks ago with a right pectoral strain and suffered a setback late last month, but he’s getting closer to rejoining the Tigers. The big question is whether he’ll do so as a starter or a reliever.

According to Chris Iott of MLive.com, Sanchez threw 25 pitches off the mound this afternoon and is scheduled to throw again tomorrow. While he’s making progress, there might not be enough time to get him fully stretched out as a starter before the postseason. As a result, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus discussed the possibility of using him as a reliever.

“Starting or in the bullpen, he’s certainly a talented and effective pitcher,” Ausmus said. “Absolutely we would much rather have a scenario in which we had to decide how to use Sanchie rather than whether we can use Sanchie.”

“The tough part now with Sanchie would be getting his pitch count up high enough that he could start,” Ausmus said. “If we weren’t able to do that, the likely option would be the bullpen.”

Sanchez led the AL with a 2.57 ERA last season and posted a 3.46 ERA over 21 starts this season prior to the injury. The 30-year-old has made just one relief appearance over nine seasons in the majors.