Tigers add Zimmermann; an underrated signing

Early yesterday morning Jordan Zimmermann signed a five year $110 million deal, with the Detroit Tigers. A strong starting pitcher was an evident need for the Tigers going into the 2016 season as their rotation was not very good at the end of last season.
After the Tigers traded their ace David Price, the Tigers rotation was a complete and utter mess at the back end, which included 3 rookie arms in Buck Farmer, Matt Boyd, and Daniel Norris. In AAA, Farmer showed hardly any promise and notched an ERA of 4.15, he was later called up by the Tigers who were desperately searching for rotation help, and Farmer clearly wasnt ready as he put up a horrid 7.36 ERA . The duo of Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris who came in from Toronto in the Price trade are both highly touted prospects that have succeeded in the minor leagues, but have yet to find that same success in their young career at the major league level. Jordan Zimmermann will stabilize this rotation to a certain extent.
This ball club has many questions and needs going into 2016 under new GM Al Avila. The team has already answered one of these when they acquired Closer Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. If the Tigers make a couple more acquisitions in the pitching department, specifically a back of the rotation starter and another late inning stud, they can potentially retake the AL Central throne.
Zimmermann, who will be 30 in May, has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball since he broke out in 2011 when he was 25 years old. He has a career ERA of 3.32 and has pitched over 800 innings over the last 4 seasons. Last year, two aces picked up in free agency were Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. These deals were worth $210 million for 7 years and $155 million for 6 years respectively. If you compare the last 3 seasons before Lester, Scherzer and Zimmermann reached free agency, Zimmermann doesn’t fall short of the other two statistically at all. Zimmermann had the best K/BB rate, and the lowest ERA, and WHIP of the 3 of them. The only question is why Zimmermann got a significantly weaker contract than the two.
The answer to this is that Zimmermann struggled (for his standards at least) in the 2015 season, his contract year. He still was able to pitch 3.66 ERA baseball with 201.2 innings pitched and a solid 13 wins despite a train wreck Nationals squad backing him. One thing that could have contributed to his struggles is the change in velocity in his fastball. Zimmerman had consistently thrown his fastball at around 93mph, but at times could rear back and reach 97mph. In the 2015 season this changed, in 2014 he was able to throw a total of 928 pitches above 95mph, but in 2015 he only threw 296. This made his fastball more hittable as hitters no longer had to worry as much about a heater coming in at 97mph, which allowed them to keep their hands back a little longer, and to see it for that split second more, this also affected the effectiveness of his main secondary pitch. His slider was lights out in 2014, but unfortunately this did not stand true in 2015. This is likely due to the lack of difference between the velocities between his fastball and slider. Since Zimmermann hardly threw his fastball over 95mph, it became easier for hitters to adjust to a slower pitch, because the difference in velocity was smaller. The 2015 season was not all bad for Zimmermann.
Despite his decrease in his maximum velocity from his fastball, he was able to increase the minimum velocity of the pitch. In past years he would throw his fastball at 87-88mph at times, but in 2015 he did not throw a fastball below 90mph. His curveball also became much more effective as batters hit a mere .188 against it. The only remaining question is if this decrease in performance will be a continuing downward trend, or merely a blip in the radar.


One comment

  1. Ballislife · December 1, 2015


    Liked by 2 people

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