Joel Zumaya out 3 months

The news wasn’t good out of New York this afternoon. Joel Zumaya, who injured his hand warming up Saturday night, has a ruptured tendon in the middle finger on his throwing hand. It will require surgery which Zumaya will have performed by Dr. Charles Monroe on Thursday. Zumaya is expected to miss 12 weeks.

Getting by for a couple weeks is a lot different than having to cope for half of a season. Rodney is certainly capable of picking up a good deal of the slack, but who picks up Rodney’s slack? With the combination of set-up men Jim Leyland could either double up their innings on a given night, or have them each pitch one inning shortening the game to six innings. That luxury is gone now.

Jose Mesa will be called on, as will the lefty duo of Wil Ledezma and Bobby Seay who will likely see more LOOGY situations.

I’d expect that the Tigers will not rely on Aquilino Lopez and will either a)reach down to the minors and select one of their starting pitchers (like Virgil Vasquez or Zach Miner) or look to acquire another arm.

The other possible side effect of this is that Jim Leyland stays with his starters deeper into games. The additional workload on each starter would probably amount to no more than 5-6 innings total. As long as it doesn’t invoke pitch counts of 120+ regularly that wouldn’t be so bad.

The longer term ramifications aren’t as pleasant to think about. The middle finger is the last part of the pitcher’s body to have contact with the baseball. Any lack of feel or confidence could be devastating. This isn’t a shoulder which exists to generate a ton of torque, this is the delicate part. I’m neither a doctor nor a pitcher, but I fear that coming back from this particular injury will be much more difficult than just having the doctor go in and fix it up.


  1. Adam

    May 7, 2007 at 6:39 pm


  2. Jim

    May 7, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    I said to my father last year I bet zoom would end up on the DL sooner or later with that grip and violent throw of his. Just came a little sooner than I thought…Hope it works out well but I’m not too optimistic about him comming back 100% from this.

    Brad Lidge anyone?

  3. Greg

    May 7, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Leyland is going to start using Mesa in high-leverage situations, which is certainly not good. I’m scared.

  4. Andrew

    May 7, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Well, at least he’ll have some time to hone his “Guitar Hero” skills. I don’t think he would need the middle finger for playing that game. 😉

    On a serious note – this stinks. First Rogers and now Zumaya. No one said it would be easy to repeat and now we are getting a taste of that lukewarm beverage labeled “Bitterness” that is being dipped out of the magic fountain that was 2006.

    It was funny seeing the mighty Yankees suffer injuries to their pitching staff, but now we’ve taken another hit and there won’t be a Roger Clemens coming to save us.

    As Charlie Brown always says when something bad happens – “Oh @%*#!” I mean “RATS!”

  5. Mike R

    May 7, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    Taking a flier on Brad Lidge via trade might not be a bad deal. Big ball park that could keep some of his pitches getting hit hard in the ballpark. And maybe a change of scenery would be good.

    i read this on Danny Knobler’s blog:

  6. Steve G

    May 7, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    As the season progresses, it looks more and more like the Tigers should have held on to Jamie Walker.

  7. Chief

    May 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Held on to Walker for $4 million when Bobby Seay can do 80% of the job for the minimum?

    Walker today:

    1IP, 3H, 4R, 1BB, 1SO, 1HR

  8. Mike R

    May 7, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Yeah, giving Walker $4 would’ve been plain ridiculous, in my opinion.

  9. Ian C.

    May 7, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    I’m on board with trading for Brad Lidge, but the price surely just went up. Other teams such as Toronto, Philadelphia, and Florida might also have failed closers to spare.

  10. Jim

    May 7, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    The market dictates that any decent reliever is going to cost alot in money or trade…

  11. Cameron in Singapore

    May 7, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Ay ay ay…

  12. Dave from the ATL

    May 7, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Does anyone know more about this injury other than just ‘out twelve weeks’?

    Is it possible that this is a career threatening type of injury?

    Watching the game on TV you could just tell by the way Zoom was wreathing in pain that this was very serious.

    I totally bummed. Joel brings so much excitement to every game he’s in.

  13. ron

    May 7, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Leyland will make the right moves. The offense will be there. If we have a true championship caliber team which I know we do, then everyone will step up their game. Don’t panic. We don’t need no stinkin’ Clemens. Rodney is our man.

  14. Mark P.

    May 7, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    I agree Ron. This is a tough blow to the team, but not a devastating one that will effect the rest of the year. It is not like we have had the rash of injuries that the Yankees and Blue Jays have had this year. We are still a deep team plus have a good young pitchers in the minors. I would not be surprised if they call up Vasquez and put Durbin in the bullpen for a bit.

    I am not a fan of Mesa, but maybe Leyland can pull some magic with him. I don’t think we need to regret losing Walker (not worth $4M) or look to trade right now.

  15. Mark in Chicago

    May 7, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    It’s a long season, and while we’d obviously prefer to have JZ for the entire summer, it looks like they’ll have him back in shape for the stretch run. Remember Minnesota last year, who were all but dead and buried before they came back to win the division. My point is that a LOT can happen between now and game #162, and we already knew that everyone would have to contribute if the Tigers were gong to get back to the postseason. This just magnifies that point. They still have great starting pitching, a very solid offense, and a respectable bullpen, even without JZ. That should keep them at least close until everyone gets healthy, there’s lots of time.

  16. Sam

    May 8, 2007 at 12:12 am

    Could Miller help fill Zoom-Zoom’s role out of the pen. He had grade-A stuff. Does he have the command?? Or do you wait and let him take Maroth’s spot in the rotation if Mikey doesn’t start pitching better??

    I don’t know, just asking.


  17. David

    May 8, 2007 at 1:33 am

    Lidge looks real good right ’bout now…

    Still, I would rather see a guy by the name of Dallas Trahern get the call up, he a pitcher, not a flamethrower. Or Virgil, w/e works.

    This is a tough loss, but all in all I’d rather it be him than almost all of the regulars or SP.

    A combo of Ledezma, and F-Rod should bridge smoothly more often than not to Jonesey.

    I’ll just throw a names out there that are doing well or great this year, that are in the NL and on teams that I figure to be out of the race. Making them easier to acquire…

    Damaso Marte – Pittsburgh
    Chad Cordero – DC
    Brad Lidge – Houston
    Brian Fuentes – Colorado
    Renyel Pinto – Flordia

    GO TIGS!!!

    I still stay with what I thought before the season, we WILL win right around 100 games.

  18. Mike R

    May 8, 2007 at 9:48 am

    I don’t get how losing Zumaya can be rationalized as not that big of a deal when it’s 3 months, a.k.a. half an entire season.

    And Andrew Miller is no where near ready for the big leagues. As evidenced by his lack of any sort of consistency in SINGLE-A BASEBALL. Even mentioning him as a possible option in the beginning of may seems absurd to me. I’d prefer he take the Verlander route and spend an entire season in the minors, coming up in september, and then we can look towards the future.

    And will Leyland work the same magic he’s used to turn Neifi Perez into a competent MLB-caliber hitter? Oh, wait. . .

    I’m not saying make a trade right now, but depending on if Zumaya has any set backs (this is a joint in his pitching finger, not exactly something to just brush aside on his left arm or something), a deadline deal will be in works. And possibly sooner if/when Jose Mesa pitches like, well, Jose Mesa.

  19. Chris Y.

    May 8, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Agree totally with Mike R. here.

    This is a significant injury for this club. The luxury of having Zoom stem every late rally with a scoreless inning and leaving the opposing club utterly confused is OVER until he returns.

    Miller ain’t even close. A trade will not be made anytime soon, and probably half of David’s list isn’t even available, esp. Fuentes.

    I expect they bring another starter up, hopefully VV, and figure out positioning between Durbin, Maroth, and VV over the next couple months. How all that pans out, plus Zumaya’s progress will determine how deep we dig for another arm in July.

    That said, it isn’t unreasonable to expect Mesa to ease some of this load. The guy isn’t great, but he is capable of putting together a decent stretch.

  20. Mike R

    May 8, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Elugio De La Cruz is a candidate, I think, to make the jump from Double-A to the bullpen. 20 K’s and 1 BB in his last 2 starts.

  21. Ryan S

    May 8, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I think how we weather this injury starts and ends with Fernando Rodney. Most teams don’t have the luxury of having two setup guys as good as Zoom and Rodney. This basically means Rodney will have to shoulder the setup role alone. Mesa will have to fill some innings for sure, as will the other bullpen guys, but I think Rodney’s going to be the guy who gets the call in high leverage situations in the 7/8th inning. We’ve seen plenty of “Bad Rodney” this year. We’ve also recently seen “Good Rodney”. Whichever version shows up more often over the next few months will be the greatest determining factor as to how much this injury affects us.