We are now inside 10 days until the start of the 2018 season. So it’s time to start thinking about one of the greatest and most celebrated days of the year in Detroit. That’s right, Opening Day!
Our writers have chosen to address a question about the home opener, a day we have grown quite used to watching Justin Verlander run out to the mound to start the game. This year it will be someone else.
Our writers have not shared their answers to the following question about this year’s Opening Day starter. Let’s see if they are aligned on the topic.
Here’s the question.
Jordan Zimmermann was named starter for Opening Day. Did Ron Gardenhire make the best decision?
Michael Fulmer, if he can avoid injury, is going to pitch plenty of Opening Days. But how important is it for him to be that guy this year? I think it has very little importance.
It appears like Ron Gardenhire is looking to build some character. Most assume Michael Fulmer will perform well this season. But how many can honestly say they are optimistic about Zimmermann?
Jordan has had his moments this spring; Chris Bosio has worked with him on quickening his pace which has done wonders for his rhythm. When they signed Jordan, the Tigers were banking on the consistent, bulldog of a pitcher who had so many successful seasons in Washington. But they have only gotten half of one season in Detroit.
Gardenhire is clearly injecting a high dosage of confidence into the psyche of JZ, and I think it’s a low risk, calculated and smart idea.
Maybe not the “best” decision, but it was the “right” one – for 2 reasons.
Jordan Zimmermann is the Tigers’ second most expensive player after Miggy, still owed $74 million at $24-425 mill a pop and completely untradeable. Starting him is a vote of confidence that will hopefully help be the catalyst for a better year and potentially help salvage the signing.
Starting someone with only 2 years of MLB experience and making league minimum, like Michael Fulmer, would be a significant mental blow to J-Z’s confidence and a sign that the Tigers’ belief in him is waning.
But let’s also remember that the Opening Day starter, throughout baseball, is largely a symbolic selection based upon the most prominent and often most experienced starting pitcher.
Some quickly forget that Justin Verlander was the Opening Day pitcher every year (except 2015 when he was recovering from surgery) even when other pitchers had better previous years. In 2014, Max Scherzer was passed over despite his Cy Young Award in favor of JV. And when Max moved to the Nationals, he again was nudged aside for Stephen Strasburg despite having just won yet another Cy Young.
Opening Day is more about making honorific decisions than one focused on those who are most deserving. Fulmer would be much more understanding of his standing and how this tradition is calculated than Zimmermann would be.
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