It's been a tough weekend north of the border for the Detroit Tigers against the Toronto Blue Jays, and the team has sustained a pair of injuries on the road that will make things even tougher in the weeks ahead.
Starter Anibal Sanchez and reliever Joakim Soria are both headed to the disabled list with similar ailments. Sanchez has a right pectoralis major strain, and Soria a left oblique strain. Both struggled on back to back days with these issues. Though there's no timetable on Soria recovery, the team said Sanchez could miss three-to-four weeks with his issue.
Expected to start in Sanchez's place against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday is Robbie Ray, who saw time earlier this season while Sanchez was fighting off a blister ailment. Since going back to Toledo, Ray has been on a roller coaster ride but his stock is currently up since discovering his slider.
So far, Ray is 7-5 in 2014 with a 3.72 ERA with the Mud Hens. The timing to bring him back now seems better than early July, when Ray was struggling and Detroit opted to pitch Drew VerHagen against the Cleveland Indians.
Soria just arrived from Texas and has been improving steadily since struggling through his first handful of appearances. He wiggled off the hook on Saturday afternoon with runners on base, but injury struck and he'll have to spend time on the disabled list to recoup.
It's one step forward, two steps back for the Tigers, who may have been entertaining thoughts of using Soria in the closer role since Joe Nathan's latest struggles. The injury likely means that Nathan remains entrenched in the ninth inning. From a severity standpoint, the Soria issue is bigger considering the depth of Detroit's rotation. David Price pitches Sunday, and any one of the Tigers' other starters is capable of going deep into games with a quality start.
The unsteady bullpen, however, has been a different story. Now, Detroit will be relying on the promise of deep starts and Joba Chamberlain, who's been the team's version of old reliable in 2014 while Soria recovers.
The currently free-falling Tigers are only 1.5 games ahead of the hot-again Kansas City Royals in the race for the Central Division, and both injuries could represent significant roadblocks going forward.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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Tags: Anibal Sanchez, Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Joakim Soria, Joba Chamberlain, Joe Nathan, MLB, Robbie Ray