How Was The Game? (May 13, 2013)

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

It’s always fun to play the Astros.

Tigers 7, Astros 2

The Tigers performed against the Astros as a team should. Behind a strong start by Anibal Sanchez (4-3, 52.2 IP, 2.05 ERA, 1.42 FIP, 2.6 WAR) in which he went 7 innings, allowed 2 runs, struck out 8 and walked 1. In addition to Sanchez’s strong outing, Andy Dirks’ 4th inning grand slam backed Victor Martinez’s 2 run homer in the same inning to give the Tigers plenty of offense with which to work. The Tigers didn’t miss Jackson with Dirks providing three hits from the leadoff spot and Sanchez maintained his position atop the pitcher WAR leaderboard – actually by a lot. After today’s start, Sanchez now owns a 11.28 K/9 and 2.05 BB/9 in 8 starts, which if you’re new to baseball, is very good. Both numbers, in addition to the ERA and FIP, are on pace to be career bests. Should Sanchez keep anything close to this pace up for the rest of the season, this will certainly be Sanchez’s career year. One of the things that is contributing to Sanchez’s success this year is his increased reliance on his changeup as opposed to in the past (as illustrated below by yearly averages):

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It’s too early to say for sure, but it looks like trading a few sliders for some changeups is helping Sanchez perform above his career norms early in 2013. He’s also allowing fewer homeruns per flyball (2.6%) than his career average (8.2%) which could be good fortune or the result of the new approach. The Tigers will look to take the series tomorrow night with Doug Fister (4-1, 43 IP, 3.14 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 1.2 WAR) toeing the rubber.

The Moment: Dirks hits a no doubt grand slam – the first of his career – in the 4th.

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