Posted on August 7, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After one start back in the rotation, Jordan Zimmermann is going right back on the DL. The Detroit Tigers placed Zimmermann on the 15-DL Saturday night with lat tightness that forced him to leave his start Thursday against the Chicago White Sox. It was his first start in more than a month since going to the DL with a neck strain, and Zimmermann lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing six runs on six hits.
Zimmermann said after his start Thursday that he wasn’t in pain, but that his lat felt tight. Based on his performance and the briefness of the outing, the lat tightness was clearly bothering him. An MRI taken Friday revealed no major injury to the lat, at which point the Tigers were hopeful he would be able to avoid another trip to the DL. However, after Zimmermann tried to play cath on Saturday and didn’t feel quite right, the team decided to make a roster move and add him to the DL.
Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said moving Zimmermann to the DL is mostly a precaution and due to the fact that the veteran righty is not feeling like himself. “[We are] figuring it’s probably best that we get him back at full strength rather than trying to fight through it at 80 percent for a couple starts,” Ausmus said Saturday. Ausmus insists that Zimmermann was not rushed back from the DL prior to Thursday’s start, as he did make two rehab starts before returning from the DL.
With Zimmermann returning from the DL, the Tigers were hopeful that he could partner with Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer to give Detroit a formidable trio at the top of its starting rotation. However, that will have to wait at least two weeks for Zimmermann to return, possibly longer considering how tricky lat injuries can be.
Of course, despite so many issues in the back end of the rotation, the Tigers have won 10 of their last 11 games heading into Sunday’s series finale with the New York Mets. That win streak has brought the Tigers into a tie for the second wild card spot and within two games of the Cleveland Indians atop the AL Central.
To fill Zimmermann’s spot in the rotation, the Tigers are expected to call up Daniel Norris from triple-A to start Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners. Norris has made just four appearances for the Tigers this year, spending most of the season in triple-A and missing a month of action with an oblique injury. Detroit was anticipating needing Norris at some point in the near future with Mike Pelfrey going on the DL last week and Animal Sanchez struggling to be effective as a starter all season. Norris has a 4.54 ERA in 17 starts at triple-A this season.
If there’s a silver lining it may be that the Tigers have managed to survive more than a month this season without Zimmermann’s services and have actually played some of their best baseball of the season during that span. If Zimmermann is able to return from the DL at some point, he could give the Tigers a considerable boost late in the season if he’s fully healthy and able to perform at his best. Of course, that may not come for a few more weeks, if at all.