By:  Holly Horning

I am a “cautiously optimistic” person in general but especially so when it comes to baseball. I refuse to make predictions about the standings and always hope for the best. I stay for the very last out of a game no matter how far behind my team is.

But that’s not to say that I don’t have gut feelings about certain match-ups based upon the habits and patterns seen.

Which is why I sat down in trepidation to watch Jordan Zimmermann pitch on Saturday. And it left me with a slew of questions which appear not to be easily answered. Questions like:

If Zimm didn’t have good outings in AAA, what led the team to believe he would be effective against major league hitting?

In his last 2 appearances, JZ told Ausmus both times that he felt good to go. After the first debacle, in which Zimm confessed that he really wasn’t 100%, why would Brad trust his word again?

If starting pitching was doing so well with a rotation of JV, Boyd, Norris, Fulmer and even Sanchez, why would they want to mess with the formula this late in the season?

Why do we now have 2 instances with Zimmermann warming up pre-game, viewed by the manager, pitching coach, trainer and 2 catchers and deemed ready to pitch even though everyone who watched him is on the record with their first-hand concerns?

How can a team be so far off the mark about a pitcher’s readiness that he’s unable to even pitch a single inning without incurring a substantial number of earned runs?

How could management take such a big risk in one of the most crucial games of the year, esp. after his last start?

How many decision-makers were involved in green-lighting Zimm’s return?

And were most of these people all in agreement or were they overruled by someone else?

Speaking of being in agreement, how many would logically believe there would be a good outcome based upon Zimm’s performance in AAA where he underwhelmed and was hit hard on occasion? But despite the inability for us to rationalize this decision, it may actually be based upon an expansive series of factors including:

1. The AAA system had concluded for the year and offered no more chances for rehab.

2. Starting pitching candidates had been exhausted with no other viable starters available and Fulmer nearing his innings limits.

3. A huge contract generally dictating that money is often an overriding factor in determining how quickly a player is returned to the lineup.

4. A desperate last-ditch attempt to regain as many injured players as possible in order to make a push for the playoffs.

But for me, where the Zimmermann train went off the track was early in the summer with his first injury. An injury that was officially presented as being minor, yet somehow turned into a 3-month odyssey. A single injury that ended up impacting other areas of his body as medical experts have testified.

An injury that after a whopping 2 months of no improvement resulted in JZ seeking his own independent medical help. A return to someone here in DC who helped keep him injury-free for over 6 years. And while Zimm is nowhere near back to normal, he did state that he was feeling his best after this treatment than he did all summer.

I won’t make any assumptions or statements about medical treatment. But I can’t help but believe that an initial injury officially deemed minor and short-term by the team – and that turned into multiple related injuries keeping him out for 3 months – could have been resolved better and more quickly.

If it had, we wouldn’t be here discussing a disappointing weekend that pushed the Tigers further away from playoff contention.


  1. His appearances at Toledo during the most recent rehab stint were not that bad. He was limited in the number of pitches allowed, something like 40 the first and 60 the second. In both he allowed no runs. It was the third appearance where he was tagged. So it’s not like he was anywhere near as horrible as he was on his first rehab stint.


    • Hi, Hamp – in JZ’s second rehab, he pitched 4 innings and gave up 2 runs on 78 pitches in those 4 innings. In his last rehab, he also pitched 4 innings but it took him 76 pitches to get the job done in that short time while giving up 7 runs including 2 HRs. The media reports were overall not favorable and indicated he struggled the entire time he was on the mound. Thanks for continuing the conversation! – Holly


  2. Instead of throwing him in the SP in an extremely important game, why not put him in the bp and bring him along slowly. The rotation is stable but the bp is shaky. It might give the team some confidence to see Zimm, or Pelfry coming out of the pen instead of Farmer/Hardy. It also takes some pressure off Zimm but the Tigers have to get a ROI.


  3. Whether it was a decision based on consensus of opinion or being overruled by someone, their judgement was distressingly flawed. If it was an attempt to justify an investment, they foolishly valued the ROI on an individual contract at the expense of the team & the season. This decision could prove fatal.


  4. I wince every time Rand waddles onto the field or shown resting his arms across the 80 lbs. covering his abs/obliques. I wonder if Rand was supervising Norris’ box jumps in spring training. Rare core injuries almost every year continue. This training staff is a disgrace and needs to be swept clean the moment the season ends.


  5. I was worried when his first injury arose, thinking this could be a repeat of JV’s injury that took him 18 months to recover from. Wasn’t his an oblique injury? Sanchez went down with that, also, and wasn’t himself for a long time. Is that what Zimm’s injury was, or is?


    • Hi, RKR – Zimm’s first injury was a grade 1 (mildest) groin strain. He was expected to miss only 1 start, but he missed more. Then, it was 2 neck strains in a row followed by his lat. It was believed that the groin strain altered his mechanics which then created the other issues. Thanks for keeping the conversation going! – Holly


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