Coming into the 2018 season, it looked like Jordan Zimmermann was finished as a fantasy-relevant starting pitcher. He was entering his age-32 season, and he had essentially been a train wreck ever since he turned 30. In other words, I certainly didn’t expect to be sitting here in July 2018 recommending Zimmermann in basically any fantasy format.
After a strong first month in a Tigers uniform in 2016, Zimmermann unraveled entirely. As for that month of April, it wasn’t without its warning signs either — even though he pitched to a pristine 0.55 ERA in his first 33 innings as a Tiger, he just wasn’t missing many bats, as his 6.27 K/9 indicated. He was getting outs, but for a guy who recorded strikeout rates of 8.20 K/9 and 7.32 K/9 in his previous two seasons with the Nationals, that was a pretty steep drop — even for a guy moving from the National League to the American League.
As soon as the 2016 calendar turned to May, Zimmermann experienced a meltdown that lasted for about two full years:
- May-Sept 2016:
- 72.1 IP, 6.84 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.6 HR/9
- 2017 Season:
- 160 IP, 6.08 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.6 HR/9
He continued to allow way too many runs in April 2018 (5.81 ERA), but there were also some signs that he might finally be turning it back around after two years plagued by nagging injuries to his neck and back. He struck out 27 batters in 26.1 IP in April — which was the first time he averaged more than a strikeout per inning in any month since August 2015 — but when he hit the disabled list with shoulder discomfort in early May, it looked like he might be heading for another lost season in Detroit.