DETROIT -- Perhaps the most concerning element of the Detroit Tigers' early struggles has been the erratic performances of the team’s starting rotation. Whether it has been a bevy of deep balls, a barrage of walks or a blistered middle finger, there always seems to be something.
Except, of course, when Jordan Zimmermann takes the mound.
Zimmermann, signed as one of the team’s premier free-agent acquisitions this winter, has been nothing short of spectacular in his early Tigers tenure and continued his stinginess Monday night in the Tigers’ 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park.
There was an abundance of hard-hit balls, and Zimmermann gave up seven hits over the course of 6⅔ innings, but he didn’t surrender his first run until the sixth inning, when Billy Burns' ground-ball single to right scored Marcus Semien. Burns’ RBI snapped Zimmermann’s scoreless streak at 24⅓ innings, the longest ever for a pitcher at the start of his Tigers career, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
Considering the Tigers' recent slide -- four straight losses and six defeats in the previous seven game heading into Monday’s contest -- Zimmermann’s consistency has to seem like a godsend for the Tigers, and manager Brad Ausmus, right now.
Zimmermann has been the one member of the starting rotation who has been unwaveringly consistent, no matter the weather, the opponent or the day.
Everyone else has been much more scattered in their first stretch of starts: Justin Verlander was superb Friday, but has had sub-optimal outings as well. Mike Pelfrey has, admittedly, been “terrible.” Both Anibal Sanchez and Shane Greene have struggled as of late, with the latter a possibility to land on the disabled list.
That scenario could force the Tigers to dip into the reserve at Triple-A Toledo, where they could recall Matt Boyd, Michael Fulmer, Buck Farmer or possibly even Daniel Norris, who made his most recent rehab start on Monday. So while the Tigers’ rotation might be in flux right now, Zimmermann’s spot is as secure as ever.