11 April, 2006

MLB debut - Joel Zumaya

The one thing Joel Zumaya will give you is heat. Rumours are around that the young right-hander out of the San Diego area has topped 100mph on the radar gun. Trouble for Zumaya and the Tigers is that he doesn't have a change-up to match the heater though his curve is serviceable. Develop an off speed pitch and Zumaya could be an effective starter. All the same, with an unhittable fast ball he might be a dominant reliever.

In 151 innings split between AA Erie and AAA Toledo last year, Zumaya fanned 199 batters. Throughout his Minor League career he's been a starter and he's averaged allowing less than a hit an inning (6.51 per 9 innings). Zumaya's command has improved. His BB/K ratio over his career is not outstanding, but in 2005 his WHIP at Toledo was an impressive 1.23.

The Tigers have decided to test him in the 'pen this year. He got his chance early on, in the Tigers' opening day 3-1 victory at Kansas City on 3 April. He relieved Kenny Rogers in the 7th and pitched two innings allowing a hit and walk. As per his reputation, Zumaya fanned three - Sanders, Brown and Teahen. He threw a lot of pitches - 34, 21 for strikes - but escaped without damage and was credited with his first Major League hold. Closer Fernando Rodney swooped in for the save.

KC are not the greatest test. Nevertheless, it could be an interesting ride this season with the rebuilding, seemingly rejuvenated Tigers and with fireballing 21 year old Joel Zumaya anchoring the bullpen.


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