By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
In Detroit, we have grown used to spending September in the middle of a pennant race. So watching the team struggle and playing the young guys seems odd at best.
But the Tigers have to learn from this and strengthen the areas that are most responsible for the 2015 downfall. And it really all starts with starting pitching. There are moves the Tigers need to make now in order to address the future of their starting rotation.
So, our writers’ answers to the following question will give you an idea of where they stand on a couple of Tiger starters looking to resume pitching this month.
Should the Tigers bring back Sanchez and Norris to pitch again this year?
Kurt – I am mixed on this. But given how important it will be for the Tiger starting staff to be rebuilt and competitive again, I would be hard pressed to make much of an effort to bring 2 starters back from injury in the interests of a couple starts.
For Sanchez especially, who has struggled with some key injuries over the last couple seasons, I would absolutely not bring him back to pitch this season under any circumstance. What is there to gain? What would the Tigers be trying to prove? I just don’t understand the risk. Why not just get him right and ready for spring training next season?
As far as Norris goes, I can see how his injury may have healed to the point where he could pitch again, and I am sure the Tigers would like to get another look at him before the season comes to a close. He doesn’t have a lock on a rotation spot for next year, even though he is probably a leading candidate among the young pitchers acquired at the trade deadline in July.
But we have to protect these young guys at the same time, treating them with “kid gloves.”
Ironically, as I write this, our TV duo of Mario and Rod are talking about how important it will be that they both come back to pitch this month. Rod explained that you don’t want them to have any uncertainty about injuries they suffered at the end of the season.
I do understand the mental aspect involved with that. But if they are in a position where they feel like they can come back and pitch soon, that should cure the “uncertainty.” I just wouldn’t chance it with either one of them. They are too important to our future to take a risk in a meaningless month of September.
I might sound like I want to blow up everything that has to do with September baseball lately, but you know, I have already moved on to next year. The record will be what it will be. I am just counting the days until Brad leaves town and we can start building this team back to the level we expect. And it starts with protecting, not exposing our pitchers who have experienced late season injuries.
Holly – What a difference a month makes. In early August I might have said something completely different from today but this has been a strange year with an ever-changing roster.
So I need to answer “yes” – and “no” depending upon the pitcher.
Anibal Sanchez struggled for much of this year and it was often whispered that his uneven performances had the earmarks of an injury. His current injury is related to his throwing arm but he’s also battled shoulder inflammation for a portion of this year.
Bringing him back with only 3 weeks left in the season would be futile – and potentially dangerous. He’ll need at least 2 starts to get back up to speed with maybe 2 other starts left. What’s the point?
A better option is to give Anibal a thorough look-see and give him an early start on healing and prepping for next spring where he is currently slotted into that crucial #2 position behind JV.
On the other hand, I’d bring Norris back for three reasons. First of all, his injury was not arm-related. Let’s just hope the oblique injury doesn’t end up changing his delivery.
Norris has the talent, attitude and youth this team and especially the pitching staff desperately needs. The Tigers have question marks next to #3, #4 and #5 in the rotation for next year and Norris appears a likely candidate for one of them. Best he get as much experience this year as he can.
But sadly, the last reason for bringing him back has nothing to do with him and everything to do with all those other young arms. Arms that were brought up out of desperation and fans who watched them take undeserved lickings because they were not yet ready for prime time.
It doesn’t take an arm injury to render a pitcher ineffective. Damaging the mental game and confidence is just as effective.