Detroit Tigers: Will Jordan Zimmermann Return To Form In 2017?

Jordan Zimmermann is heading into the second season of a five-year, $110 million deal he signed with the Detroit Tigers. Zimmermann will be looking to rebound from a rough first season in Detroit.

As it stands right now, the top of the Detroit Tigers‘ starting rotation is set to feature Justin Verlander, the runner-up in the 2016 AL Cy Young voting, and Michael Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. The Tigers also have another starting pitcher who figures to be a lock for the starting rotation in Jordan Zimmermann.

After the 2015 season, the Tigers signed Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year, $110 million deal. Zimmermann was part of a big free agent class of starting pitchers, which also included David Price, Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto, to name a few.

The deal was not without risk as Zimmermann had undergone Tommy John surgery in the past. Moreover, although his 2015 season was solid, it was not quite on par with his stellar 2014 campaign.

Early on, however, it appeared as though the Tigers had made a great deal.

Zimmermann dominated the month of April, going 5-0 with an 0.55 ERA over five starts. However, Zimmermann, who later dealt with groin and neck injuries, ending up spending two separate stints on the disabled list. He appeared in only four games after the All-Star break and finished the season with a 9-7 record, a 4.87 ERA (85 ERA+) and a 1.37 WHIP.

Another concern some have raised is Zimmermann’s lower strikeout rate and dip in velocity. His K/9 fell to only 5.64 and the average velocity of his four-seam fastball registered at 91.8 MPH, a career-low, according to FanGraphs.

Going into the 2017 campaign, Zimmermann, who will turn 31 years old in May, will be entering the second season of a five-year deal. Many are eager to see how he will be bounce back from a tough 2016 campaign. Given the way that he started that 2016 season in addition to the fact that injuries may have been largely responsible for his struggles, a bounce-back season for Zimmermann in 2017 is still very real possibility.

Earlier this month, Evan Woodbery of MLive reported that manager Brad Ausmus said the team plans to be careful with Zimmermann in spring training. He made his first Grapefruit League start yesterday, lasting two innings while giving up two hits and one earned, striking out one.

Over seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, Zimmermann posted a 3.32 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. He would regularly make 30 or more starts and come close to or surpass 200 innings. Zimmermann, a two-time all-star,  finished fifth in the National League Cy Young voting in 2014. He threw a no-hitter in 2014 as well.

If Zimmermann can return to form, the Tigers could have a formidable trio at the top of their rotation, assuming Verlander and Fulmer can continue to pitch the way they did last season.

The Tigers have plenty of arms competing for the final two spots in the rotation, with Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Anibal Sanchez, and Mike Pelfrey all in the mix. Norris, who had a 3.38 ERA over 14 games (13 starts) last season, should have a strong chance to secure one of those spots.

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