Jordan Zimmermann is making the Detroit Tigers' investment look wise after a run in April that hasn't been seen very often.
That doesn't bode well for a Texas Rangers team struggling to score.
Texas counters with Cole Hamels in Friday night's series opener at Comerica Park as both clubs look to snap three-game skids.
Article continues below ...
Zimmermann (5-0, 0.55 ERA) signed a $110 million deal in the offseason after seven years in Washington, and he's started his tenure with the Tigers (14-13) better than even they'd hoped.
He's allowed two earned runs while winning each of his starts and gave up only a solo homer in seven innings of Saturday's 4-1 victory over Minnesota. The right-hander has gone at least into the seventh in each outing and has allowed only four extra-base hits.
Only Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 and '85 and Zack Greinke in 2009 had a lower ERA through at least five April starts since the mound was lowered in 1969. He's also aiming to become the first Detroit pitcher to win his first six starts since George Uhle in 1929.
“I feel like I'm the same person I've always been,” Zimmermann told MLB's official website. “Luck's just on my side right now.”
The Rangers (15-14) might need some of their own to get to Zimmermann. They lost the final three of a four-game set with Toronto after falling 12-2 on Thursday and scored eight runs in the series.
Adrian Beltre went 2 for 15 against the Blue Jays and is hitting .179 over his last 11.
Texas opens this series by turning to Hamels, who is coming off the shortest of his 19 starts since coming over from Philadelphia at last season's trade deadline. Hamels (3-0, 3.30) allowed four runs in five innings of Texas' 9-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
He also walked four and has issued at least three in four of his five starts.
''I've really got to challenge (hitters),'' said Hamels, who skipped his previous scheduled start with soreness in his left groin. “You just have to make them earn the bases. (My fastball) was moving in a couple different directions on my release point.”
The left-hander wasn't at his best the last time he faced the Tigers either. Hamels gave up six runs in six innings of the Rangers' 7-6 win Sept. 29, surrendering a two-run homer to J.D. Martinez and a solo shot to Bryan Holaday, who is now Hamels' teammate after spending four years with Detroit.
Miguel Cabrera is 8 for 13 with a triple, a double and five walks in his career off Hamels, but he had a nine-game hitting streak snapped in Thursday's 9-4 loss to Cleveland.
Martinez went hitless and is 2 for 21 over his last five for the Tigers, who have dropped three straight following a five-game winning streak.
“I hope our guys are a little ticked right now,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
Texas has won five of the last six meetings both overall and in Detroit.