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Detroit Tigers: Significance of a Jordan Zimmermann Bounce-Back Season

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Mar 10, 2017; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws a pitch before the first inning of an MLB spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2017; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws a pitch before the first inning of an MLB spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
Feb 24, 2017; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Warwick Saupold (53) throws a pitch during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Significance of a Rebound

Heading into the 2017 regular season, the Detroit Tigers’ rotation will be headed up by Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer.

Daniel Norris seems another likely starter, while either Matt Boyd or Anibal Sanchez will claim the fifth spot.

Zimmermann figures to fall somewhere between Verlander and Sanchez in terms of the rotation.

On paper, the ex-Nat will likely slot in behind the former MVP and Fulmer as the third starter.

A return to the form Zimmermann showcased in Washington, and in the first part of last season, should help Detroit return to the postseason.

While the veteran missed time down the stretch last season, the Tigers were forced to rely on other options to fill out the rotation.

While Zimmermann’s absence partly allowed Fulmer, Norris and Boyd to establish themselves at the Major League level, it also opened up too many opportunity for Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey.

The veteran duo didn’t exactly impress.

In 13 starts and a lone relief outing in the second half, the former Marlin turned in a 4.45 FIP and a 1.25 WHIP.

Sanchez allowed five or more runs in three starts after July 15. He only reached the seventh inning in three of his 12 outings over that span, often exposing the bullpen.

Meanwhile, Pelfrey appeared in just six games (five starts) after July 15. He never threw more than 5.1 innings, and twice last just 1.2 frames.

Opposing batters registered a .418 on-base percentage and a .901 OPS in those outings.

Even if Zimmermann made just a handful of effective starts in that stretch in place of Sanchez or Pelfrey, there’s a good chance that the Tigers—who finished just 2.5 games out of the last Wild Card place— would have made the playoffs.

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