As we know, the Detroit Tigers have made the decision that 31-year-old Jordan Zimmermann will be their Opening Day starter, for the 2018 season.
Detroit kicks off the campaign on March 29th against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Zimmermann will be leading the way for the rotation. It may come as a surprise to some fans, and maybe even some players because Zimmermann himself seemed caught off guard by the decision.
“(Fulmer) probably deserved it more than me,” Zimmermann told reporters Sunday. “I’d have been fine pitching the fifth day, as long as I’m in the rotation. I was, I guess, a little shocked”.
What is surprising to many is that Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire reportedly did not even consider Michael Fulmer when picking his Opening Day starter.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said the same thing. Unless Zimmermann was hurt or faltering, he didn’t really consider anybody else, not even Fulmer, as the Opening Day starter.
“Gardy and I never discussed it (early in camp),” Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio said. “I think just through spring everything kind of just evolved. He’s a big-game pitcher, loves the stage. He’s healthy. He’s been real consistent in his outings.
“Everything pointed in that direction based on his experience and the way he’s throwing the ball.”
Fulmer thinks Zimmermann deserved the opening day nod:
“Obviously it was Gardy’s decision, and I support it 100 percent,” Fulmer said. “We’re excited that [Zimmermann]’s going to start us off right and lead us out on Opening Day. … He absolutely deserved it. We’re happy that Zim can lead us, being the veteran that he is. We know that he can do it. We’re just ready to go, to say the least.”
The word out of Tigers camp is that Zimmermann is fully healthy and back to normal. The veteran has looked better this spring, and his health is going to be the biggest thing, once again, in 2018. Apparently, so far this spring there is no pain or stiffness in his neck, back, or shoulders, and he has been able to get back to his old form, delivery wise.
Zimmermann has also added a new wrinkle to his game, a two-seam fastball. He has been working on it this spring, and with his mechanics not being an issue, it has become a very effective weapon in his arsenal. Tigers catcher James McCann has witnessed how effective this pitch can be.
“It’s become a weapon for him,” McCann said. “It’s not something that he just has or will show every once in a while. It’s a pitch he’s going to use.”
Everything seems to be moving in the right direction so far this spring for the 10-year veteran. Getting the old delivery back, his health in order, and a new pitch, this is hopefully the start of a bounce-back year for the Jordan Zimmermann.