We hear it all the time. The White Sox have a virtually unbeatable rotation headed by Chris Sale, the Royals still have the bullpen dynasty led by Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, and Cleveland has a depth in both the rotation and in the bullpen that has propelled them well above expectations during the first quarter of the season. The AL Central is a division predominately run by pitching and the Tigers, sitting in fourth place with a sub-.500 record, have failed to reach the status quo.
The main four opening day starters included Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Mike Pelfrey, with Shane Greene being the occasional fifth man. Of the five listed, four currently have losing records and ERAs above 4.50. The most recent addition to the rotation was rookie Michael Fulmer, and though he sports a 2-1 record, his ERA and overall efficiency conveys that he hasn’t helped the current fluctuation. Yes, there is one exception, and his name is Jordan Zimmermann.
Zimmermann joined the Tigers back in November coming off the worst season of his career in Washington. Despite entering the 2016 season with so many questions and uncertainties, Zimmermann was lights out in his first few starts and finished the month of April with a 5-0 record and 0.55 ERA. Unfortunately, his dominance is very abstract among the constant struggle that surrounds him. The question is, who else? Who can give this dominant offense in Detroit a shot at winning consistent ballgames the other four days of the five pitcher rotation? Right now, just about anyone else that Detroit sends to the hill pitches a few solid rounds of BP to the opposing club.
Here in the next hour or so, the Tigers host the Rays for game two of a three game set. Michael Fulmer (2-1, 6.52 ERA), the only Tigers starter with a winning record besides Zimmermann, will face off against former Tiger Drew Smyly (2-4, 3.44 ERA). The Tigers offense, which has produced either five runs or greater in each of its last five games, hopes to maintain its success tonight. J.D. Martinez, Nick Castellanos, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Cameron Maybin, and Miguel Cabrera are all names to be reckoned with tonight against the opposing lefty.