Tigers pitcher Sanchez needs to return to form

Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 13:33:41-04

Jose Fernandez is the undisputed ace of the Miami Marlins staff, but he had to wait a bit to make his 2016 debut and continue his dominance at home.

The right-hander looks to remain perfect at Marlins Park on Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.

First-year Miami manager Don Mattingly chose to start free agent acquisition Wei-Yin Chen in Tuesday's opening 8-7, 11-inning loss to Detroit for the purpose of managing Fernandez's workload from the get-go. Fernandez was the NL's rookie of the year in 2013, but has been limited to 19 starts the past two seasons. He returned from Tommy John surgery last year to go 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 11 starts while also dealing with a strained biceps.

Fernandez is slated to work anywhere from 180-200 innings this season.

"You kind of set (him) up for what's best for the club," Mattingly said. "One day with days off or rest. ... You map it out moving forward through the whole season. If it stays on that schedule, over half his starts are on extra days rest."

Fernandez was initially disappointed with Mattingly's decision, but understood the logic.

"Of course, everybody wants to pitch opening day. Every pitcher," said Fernandez, who struck out 24 in 18 1/3 innings during spring training.

"It's no big deal. ... The big thing is on how I'm feeling."

Making his 27th home start, Fernandez looks to improve on his 17-0 mark and lower a 1.40 ERA at Marlins Park. He yielded one run and fanned 31 in 24 innings over four home starts prior to giving up six in five innings in his final 2015 outing there Sept. 25 against Atlanta.

This will be Fernandez's first appearance against Detroit, which hands the ball to ex-Marlin Anibal Sanchez. An inflamed triceps almost left the right-hander to open the season on the disabled list, but he threw 91 pitches over 4 2/3 innings Friday to satisfy the Tigers coaching staff.

"My only goal is I want to be available every five days, 100 percent," Sanchez told MLB's official website. "Ready to help the team."

He hopes for a better overall effort after going 10-10 with a 4.99 ERA in 25 starts in 2015. Sanchez went 0-3 with a 7.01 ERA in his last five before finishing the season on the DL with a rotator cuff issue.

Sanchez, who spent his first seven-plus seasons with the Marlins, struck out eight over five scoreless innings at Miami in his only appearance against his former team in September 2013.

Ian Kinsler had four RBI, including a run-scoring single in the 11th for one of his three hits Tuesday. Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Anthony Gose each homered for Detroit, which led 7-4 in the ninth before Francisco Rodriguez blew the save by allowing three runs and four hits.

"The fire in this team is huge," Tigers catcher James McCann said. "They make a comeback, and we're able to fight through it and come out on top -- that's a big win."

Kinsler is 16 for 24 with eight RBI in his last five interleague games.

Dee Gordon had three hits and Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander for the Marlins, who are trying to avoid going 0-2 for a second consecutive season.