The Tigers have placed right-hander Jordan Zimmermann on the 15-day DL due to a strained neck, the team announced (via Twitter). Anibal Sanchez will take Zimmermann’s next scheduled start, while Dustin Molleken has been called up from Triple-A to round out the bullpen.
[Related: updated Tigers depth chart at Roster Resources]
The DL placement was retroactive to July 1, so Zimmermann is eligible to return during Detroit’s first series after the All-Star break (an important AL Central matchup with the Royals). He will miss at least two starts due to the injury, however, landing another blow to a beleaguered Tigers rotation.
Zimmermann signed a five-year, $110MM deal with the Tigers last winter and began his stint in the Motor City in spectacular fashion. He won AL Pitcher of the Month honors for April by posting an 0.55 ERA over five starts, and while some regression was inevitable, the righty has been inconsistent in June. Zimmermann missed a start due to a minor groin injury in late May, and he has since posted a 6.43 ERA over six starts and 35 innings.
For the full season, Zimmermann has a 3.95 ERA, 3.33 K/BB rate and 5.6 K/9. He is on track to post the lowest K/9 of his career, and his average fastball velocity has dropped to a career-low 91.9 mph. That being said, the right-hander is also using his fastball much less than usual — only 52.5% of Zimmermann’s pitches have been fastballs this season, as he is throwing his slider with more regularity. ERA predictors such as xFIP (4.56) and SIERA (4.59) indicate that Zimmermann has perhaps been a bit fortunate to only have a 3.95 ERA at this point.
Sanchez lost his rotation job last month after posting a 6.67 ERA over his first 56 2/3 innings of the season. He has performed better out of the pen (a 2.84 ERA in 12 1/3 IP), and given how he is owed at least $29MM through the end of the 2017 season, the Tigers certainly hope Sanchez has regained some of his old form.