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In the fantasy world, we need our pitchers to dominate innings, not merely accumulate them. So we’re looking at a clear case where fantasy and reality do not connect.
It doesn’t mean the Tigers are wrong, mind you. Perhaps they’ll get a reasonable return on their five years and $110 million. An average 162-game season for Zimmermann looks this way: 13-10 record, 209 IP, 3.32 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 172 Ks.
But fantasy owners need to look through a slightly different lens. Let’s consider that Zimmermann turns 30 in May and his strikeout rate and fastball speed both took a modest tumble last year. And this is someone who was already working with a pitch-to-contact frame, more often than not.
Zimmermann also loses the friendly atmosphere of the NL (love those pitchers hitting), and in particular the hacking mass of the NL East. The AL is the hitter’s league, the big-inning league. On the plus side, he’ll appreciate Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias, one of the best defenders around. Last year he had to deal with Ian Desmond’s defensive issues.
If you’re in a league with starts or innings capped, you take a hands-off approach to Zimmermann. A strikeout rate in the low 7s (per nine innings) is a deal-breaker, especially when it comes with a good-not-elite ERA (3.32 career, 3.66 last season). If your format allows for more liberal usage, perhaps you can talk yourself into Zimmermann as a support arm. I doubt he’ll be on any of my fantasy rosters; I either want to pay for elite names early or play the value game late. The middle class generally isn’t where I invest.
Ah, but it’s good to have some hot stove to discuss, isn’t it? We’ll be with you all winter long, amigos. Pitchers and catchers, about 10 weeks away.