Detroit — If it shakes out the way he thinks it’s going to, Jordan Zimmermann will get at least two starts before the end of the season.
“I want to feel the best I can going into the offseason,” he said.
Zimmermann, who had a nerve-blocking injection in his neck on Sept. 6, threw a full bullpen (40-45 pitches) on Friday and felt no discomfort. He will throw another bullpen on Monday, and if he checks out medically, he will start Thursday against the Twins.
“I was hoping I could just throw one bullpen and maybe get back out there,” he said. “My fastball command was great but my off-speed stuff needs a little more work. So, I will throw another pen and hope to be good to go Thursday.”
Zimmermann said before he got the injection, he had trouble turning his neck to even look behind him. Even after he threw the bullpen session, he still had full range of motion.
“It’s loose as can be right now,” he said.
On Monday he will throw as many as 50 pitches with one up-and-down — simulating ending an inning and starting another.
Theoretically, he could start against the Twins Thursday and start five days later at Kansas City. With an off-day on Sept. 25, the Tigers could manipulate the rotation and give Zimmermann a third start on the final day of the season in Minnesota.
Myles Jaye, who started for the Tigers Saturday, would likely be dropped from the rotation if Zimmermann returns.
“I know what I need to work on in the offseason,” Zimmermann said. “I need to get my mechanics back to where they were. After the injection, just pitching the bullpen, I wasn’t flying open as much. I was staying through the ball better.
“With the off-speed stuff, I was flying open more, which is why we’ll do the second bullpen.”
Zimmermann is on the payroll for three more years at $74 million. The Tigers are hoping he can return to form and anchor what will be an extremely young rotation next season.