Anibal Sanchez Setback Means Tigers Must Act Before Waiver Trade Deadline

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2014

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This isn't how the Detroit Tigers saw the script playing out.

When they made the blockbuster deal of the deadline, nabbing David Price in a three-team trade with the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays, the Tigers were supposed to run away with the American League Central and position themselves for another World Series run.

Instead, they're clinging to their playoff lives.

Even after Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Yankees, Detroit trails the Mariners by a half-game for the second wild card and the Kansas City Royals by 1.5 games for the division lead.

Worse, they got news that after a setback during a throwing session on Monday, right-hander Anibal Sanchez is out indefinitely.

"I threw just one pitch," Sanchez said, per MLB.com's Jason Beck. "As soon as I felt it, I knew I had to stop, because I couldn't even move my arm."

The pain, Sanchez told Beck, was the result of scar tissue tearing from the pectoral strain that landed him on the disabled list August 10.

Before the injury, Sanchez owned a 3.46 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 102 strikeouts. He also boasts a 2.95 ERA in six postseason starts.

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Now the Tigers must deal with the very real possibility they'll be without one of their best starting pitchers for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs—if they get there.

That's no sure thing. Yes, Price has pitched as advertised since arriving in the Motor City, posting a 2.35 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. 

The rest of the rotation is riddled with question marks. Sinkerballer Rick Porcello, who got the win Tuesday against New York, has been solid, but his ability to step up as a postseason horse is unknown. 

CRAIG LASSIG/Associated Press

Speaking of unknowns, Justin Verlander, once a horse among horses, has wobbled through the worst season of his professional career, losing steam on his once-blazing fastball and sporting a pedestrian 4.82 ERA through 26 starts.

The other cog in the Tigers' staff, reigning AL Cy Young-winner Max Scherzer, is having another All-Star campaign. He's also an impending free agent who rebuffed a lucrative contract extension this spring, per ESPN.com.

All that adds up to an interesting conundrum for the Tigers. They're built to win now. But what they've built might not be enough.

That means taking a long, hard look at the waiver market and quite possibly swinging a move.

The biggest name being bandied about is Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets, who cleared waivers Monday, as first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Colon has posted a 3.82 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 167.1 innings, another solid season for the ageless 41-year-old.

There may be other suitors for the veteran right-hander, such as the Los Angeles Angels, who recently lost ace Garrett Richards to a knee injury.

That could drive up the price.

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

On the other hand, Colon is owed $11 million next season and eventually Father Time will catch up; it's tough to imagine him costing the farm.

On the other, other hand, as Mark Craig of Newsday points out:

The Mets are also open to dealing Colon in the winter, when a wider pool of teams could attempt to land the pitcher. Rival executives believe Colon would draw healthy interest because his salary would be attractive for teams in search of a mid-rotation starter. Because he's already under contract, his cost would be locked in, an advantage over free agents on the open market.

There are other options. Trevor Cahill of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Scott Feldman of the Houston Astros were floated by CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman as possible waiver chips. Expect Detroit to at least kick the tires on any viable candidates.

At this point, all options are on the table, at least theoretically.

This may not be how Detroit saw the script playing out. Sometimes, though, you're forced into a last-minute rewrite.

All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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