Can you imagine how difficult it is to be a manager? How impatient did you become Wednesday night watching our starting pitcher? How many wanted Zimmermann hooked 2 innings earlier? How many were then happy that Brad allowed him time to iron things out?
Zimmermann, after his last start, blatantly blamed the cold weather for his poor performance, claiming he couldn’t grip the baseball and thus had a hard time throwing strikes. He ended that game having walked a career-high 5 hitters.
So given his next start would take place indoors, and thus no weather issues, we would get an honest indication of where he is with his progress. Well, the Rays hit him hard for 4 innings. There were multiple 3 ball counts, breaking balls that just hung over the plate, and very hard hit balls.
It’s what makes watching a baseball game, at least for me, so interesting, and it’s also why I stay away from live chats on-line. Imagine how foolish you can become by commenting and drawing conclusions throughout the peaks and valleys of a ballgame.
We have to get way out of April baseball before we start drawing conclusions about someone like Zimmermann.
But after basically a lost season in 2016, the probationary period is underway. We have every right to watch his every move. It’s on JZ to show us his acquisition wasn’t a complete mistake. It’s on him to show us his declining numbers leaving Washington were just blips on the screen.
And Zimmermann began to validate the decision when he charged out of the gate and began the season 9-2, and may have even made the All Star Game if not for the injuries which filled the rest of his 2016 season. He was one of the most critical losses of the season for the Tigers, who surely would have made the playoffs with a healthier Zimmermann.
Spring training was filled with worry about Jordan’s nerve issues in his neck; enough where we wondered if he would even start the season in Detroit. All the concerns came out: He’s a ticking time bomb. He’s an injury waiting to happen. These are the words we began to hear. I may have even used them myself.
But this is what makes baseball one of the hardest sports to figure out. Jordan is struggling with command, not velocity. He’s actually throwing the ball quite well. And that alone has to be encouraging for the Tigers, even when he is getting hit around.
It’s why fans have to look a little deeper than the numbers, when the natural tendency is to overreact to early struggles. The numbers Wednesday night were not pretty. The countless line drives were frustrating.
When you win a game, it’s much easier to dismiss a rocky start if a starter is able to iron things out and keep his team in the game, which Zimm was able to do Wednesday. But, when you lose you tend to concentrate on the numbers.
It’s fair to keep a critical eye on this guy this season. Another year will have to be lost to call Zimmermann a total bust. And in April, no writer would dare use that word about anyone.
Except maybe this writer.
I acknowledge that Zimmerman is a battler. But I would much rather start using words like ‘consistent’ and ‘dominant.’ Because we need him to be those things to get to where we want to go.