When we think of the type of pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is, the word that comes to mind is “reliable.” When the Tigers were on the market for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, they immediately turned their attention to Zimmermann. Detroit clearly needed to upgrade, but had no intention of spending over $200 million on a David Price or Zack Greinke. All the Tigers were looking for was someone they could rely on to pitch 200 innings, and be ready to go every fifth day.
“Jordan Zimmermann was our top target,” Tigers General Manager Al Avila said back when the team signed him. So far, the signing is paying dividends for the team.
Now, many of us could have predicted Zimmermann would be Detroit’s most efficient pitcher, but to say his ERA would be 0.00 through his first three starts would be quite a bold statement. Via the Elias Sports Bureau, Zimmermann is the first pitcher in Tigers history to begin his tenure with three straight scoreless starts. Zimmermann has shined so far this season and is 3-0 with wins against the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals – all teams that reached the postseason in 2015. Many wonder how pitchers translate from the National League to the American League, but so far Zimmermann has taken the adjustment in stride.
Over the past four seasons, Zimmermann, 29, has thrown 195.2 innings, 213.1 innings, 199.2 innings, and 201.2 innings, respectively. He made two appearances as a National League All-Star and his highest ERA over that span was 3.66.
Justin Verlander is not the pitcher he once was and is off to a bit of a bumpy start, allowing 13 earned runs in his first 16.1 innings pitched in 2016. Anibal Sanchez is a solid pitcher, but he missed the final month of the season due to a torn rotator cuff. Mike Pelfrey was only acquired for depth, and the Tigers will take whatever serviceable innings he can provide.
The American League Central is the best it has been in years, and coming off a year where the Tigers finished in last place in the division, they need starting pitching to be consistent. The Tigers are 8-5, which is third in the division, but it’s way too early to worry about division standings. Zimmermann is responsible for three of those – and if the Tigers want any chance of contending this season, Zimmermann just needs to be himself.