The Detroit Tigers will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound in Game 3 of the ALDS against Oakland Athletics hurler Jarrod Parker. Game 1 starter Max Scherzer held the A’s to two runs in seven innings while striking out eleven, and Game 2 starter Justin Verlander went a step further, throwing seven shutout innings with ten strikeouts. So how can Sanchez be the Tigers’ ace when they have these two stars on their staff?
The 29 year-old Tigers pitcher had the best year of his career in 2013. His 2.57 ERA was the best in the AL. Even after adjusting for park factors, nobody could top this mark. The right-hander allowed only 9 home runs, the fewest in the AL among qualified starters. Sure, his HR/FB ratio of 5.8% is bound to regress, but it’s remarkable nonetheless.
Even with the very low HR/FB ratio, Sanchez’ ERA was no fluke. A look at his underlying numbers supports my assertion that he was the Tigers’ best pitcher. Sanchez’ FIP- (a park adjusted ERA estimator based on strikeouts, walks, an