Detroit Tigers pitchers struggled in 2015. That much is true. However, the team’s pitching staff has fared much better this season. We’ve seen excellent pitching displays so far, but Jordan Zimmermann was the best.
Detroit Tigers fans were witness to some solid pitching performances early in the 2016 season. Justin Verlander kicked things off by taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the Marlins on Opening Day. Anibal Sanchez followed by arguably outdueling resident Miami ace Jose Fernandez.
The former Washington Nationals pitcher made his debut for Detroit during the team’s home opener. His opponent? The New York Yankees.
Sheer and Utter Dominance
In a word, Zimmermann was dominant against the Bronx Bombers.
He only struck out three batters, but he had all of pitches working. Zimmermann limited the Yankees to a pair of hits and three walks in seven shutout innings. What’s more, only one of the five base runners even reached second base.
The Tigers would go on to keep the Yankees off the board thanks to some solid relief pitching by Wilson and Ryan. The duo picked up right where Zimmermann left off and held New York scoreless over the final two innings.
Positive Moving Forward
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Not only was Zimmermann’s debut in Motown encouraging simply based on the fact that he shut down baseball’s second best lineup in 2015, but it was also encouraging moving forward.
The former National’s excellent start is even more of a positive when you put it next to Verlander and Sanchez’ outings in South Beach.
The 29-year-old isn’t going to throw seven shutout innings every time out (although that would be pretty nice, right?), but if he can pitch at this high level, the Tigers will be in excellent shape moving forward.
Detroit’s offense is and will continue to be outstanding, but the team’s bid to make it back to the postseason, and ultimately the World Series, lives or dies with the pitching.
Starting pitching has always been a strength of the Tigers. If Zimmermann can pitch at this kind of ace-like level, Detroit will contend for the playoffs and a deep October run again.
With Verlander, Sanchez and Zimmermann pitching well, Detroit will be a serious threat moving forward.
Another positive is how well Zimmermann pitched at Comerica Park. It was his first career start in the building, and things obviously went well. The starter has a career 3.55 ERA on the road, so if he can thrive at Comerica, he could be in line for a big season with the Detroit Tigers.
Hopefully more wildly-successful starts follow, especially at home, for Zimmermann.