DETROIT -- Max Scherzer is running away with the Major League wins lead, trails only Yu Darvish among American League pitchers in strikeouts and will be a front-runner for the AL Cy Young Award at season's end. But quietly, teammate Anibal Sanchez is putting up similar numbers.
"Heck of a year," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
With 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Wednesday night's win against the Twins, Sanchez lowered his ERA to 2.45, trailing only Hiroki Kuroda among AL starters. He has dropped half a run off his ERA since the All-Star break, allowing eight runs on 36 hits over 47 2/3 innings.
Sanchez's .225 batting average against ranks fifth among AL starters, trailing Darvish, Scherzer, Hisashi Iwakuma and Justin Masterson. His home run ratio is the league's lowest, while his 1.13 WHIP ranks eighth.
Perhaps most surprising, though, is his strikeout rate. With 152 strikeouts over 139 2/3 innings, he owns a ratio of 9.79 strikeouts per nine innings. That's slightly better than Scherzer, who had the league's highest ratio last year. Only Darvish (11.96) has a higher rate this season among AL hurlers.
There's a reason for all this, Leyland said, and it has nothing to do with a career year.
"I don't think people realize how good his stuff is," Leyland said. "He has real good stuff."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.