October 18, 2012
On the Beat
Making the Tigers Roar
Most general managers say that starting pitching remains the most difficult commodity to acquire. That would be hard to tell, though, by what Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has done the past two seasons.
The Tigers were thin on starting pitching each of the past two Julys. Last year, Dombrowski acquired right-hander Doug Fister from the Mariners. This year, Detroit picked up right-hander Anibal Sanchez from Miami. The Tigers went on to win the American League Central and reached the American League Championship Series each season thanks, in part, to the acquisitions’ performances.
"It's not just the fact that both of them have done a great job for us," Tigers super-utility player Don Kelly said. "It's the lift that making a trade for a quality starting pitcher provided to our entire clubhouse. You work hard every day from the first day of spring training in the middle of the February in order to put yourself in position to try to win your division, go to the playoffs, and hopefully win it all. When you get into late July, everyone is a little tired because you've been at it for five months. It just gives everyone a boost when you see management is putting forth the same kind of effort and is willing to do everything it can to make the roster as strong as possible."
Fister provided 1.5 WARP in 70 1/3 innings for the Tigers last season and 2.1 WARP in 161 1/3 innings this year. Sanchez didn't make quite the impact this season that Fister did last year, but he did add 0.8 WARP in 74 1/3 innings. Both hurlers have been invaluable in the ALCS against the Yankees; Fister pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings while getting a no-decision in Game One, and Sanchez won Game Two with seven shutout innings of three-hit ball.
"That's exactly why we got those guys," Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson said. "You can make a case that we wouldn't have made it this far without them. They both really beefed up our pitching staff."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was certainly happy to get the extra rotation help. "Good starting pitching always makes you a smarter manager," Leyland said. And with Fister and Sanchez falling in behind ace Justin Verlander and emerging ace Max Scherzer, it makes for an outstanding rotation.