Zimmermann sees spike in numbers vs. righties
Detroit — “Stop nitpicking,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.
He was right. The line of questioning regarding Jordan Zimmermann, Tigers right-hander who will get the start in the series finale against the Blue Jays Wednesday, was nitpicky.
“He’s 8-2 and he has one of the best ERA’s in the league,” Saltalamacchia said.
Still, there’s been an odd statistical fact that may be an anomaly, or may require a correction.
Right-handed hitters are hitting .270 against him with a .695 OPS. That a 26-point bump in average and 41-point bump in OPS over his career numbers.
“I would put that in the same category as our earlier struggles against left-handed pitching,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
“Yes,” he said.
According to Brooks Baseball, right-handed hitters are doing most of their damage against Zimmermann’s four-seam fastball, hitting it at a .328 clip this season. In his last start against the White Sox, he allowed five hits — all five came off the four-seamer, four of them by right-handed hitters.
This has been most pronounced over his last three starts. The Twins hit .467 off his four-seamer, the Rays .375 and the White Sox .625.
“There were games early on where his slider was real, real sharp and his fastball command was good,” Saltalamacchia said. “The past few outings, the slider’s been a little flatter and his fastball command was off a little. But teams are making adjustments. The league is making adjustments. He’s been in the National League a long time. Lineups are a little more stacked in the American League.
“Everyone knew he was a fastball thrower, he’s always been that way and he’s in a litter heavier offensive league now.”
That is certainly a plausible explanation for the spike. But it is at least a little worrisome on the eve of a start against a fastball-walloping, right-handed heavy lineup like the Blue Jays.
Zimmermann, making his second start after missing 13 days with a groin strain, had a full between-starts bullpen session and was able to perform his normal throwing program. He expects to be sharper than he was against the White Sox.
“Having my normal routine, my (fastball) command should be there,” he said. “But I’m the same guy every time. I am going to attack. All those guys (Blue Jays) try to hit home runs, so the chances of them running into one are pretty good.
“I will just do what I can to keep them off-balance and keep the ball in the ballpark.”