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Tigers vs. Athletics Preview: Hey, remember Edwin Jackson?

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The former Tigers righthander will make his first MLB start of 2018 on Monday.

Division Series - St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals - Game Three Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

On Monday, we get a chance to watch a pitcher who has battled injuries and ineffectiveness on his way back to the major leagues. Many considered him overpaid after signing a big money contract a few years ago, but he has found a way to stick in a major league rotation.

But enough about Jordan Zimmermann.

Jokes aside, it’s impressive to see that Edwin Jackson is still in the major leagues. He will tie Octavio Dotel’s record of playing for 13 different major league clubs in the process, an arguably more impressive feat considering he has done most of his work as a starter over the years. Tigers fans will recognize him from his lone season in Detroit; he made his first and only career All-Star appearance as a member of the Tigers in 2009, when he posted a 13-9 record and 3.62 ERA in 214 innings.

The trade that sent Jackson packing from Detroit continues to pay dividends to this day — though one might argue otherwise after Matthew Boyd’s rough start on Sunday — but Jackson himself has had an even wilder ride since departing the organization. He pitched for the Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Cardinals in 2010 and 2011, then spent all of 2012 with the Washington Nationals before signing a four year, $52 million deal with the Cubs prior to the 2013 season. That deal... didn’t work out, and he also spent time with the Braves, Marlins, Padres, and Orioles before landing back with the Nationals in 2017.

Oh, and now he’s a teammate of Matt Joyce, the outfielder the Tigers traded to Tampa to acquire Jackson in the first place. Baseball is weird sometimes.

Oakland Athletics (40-38) at Detroit Tigers (36-42)

Time/Place: 3:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Athletics Nation
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Edwin Jackson (4-3, 3.53 ERA in Triple-A) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 4.95 ERA)

Game 79 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Jackson (AAA) 71.1 20.4 9.7 - -
Zimmermann 36.1 23.4 5.8 3.65 0.8

If you missed Jordan Zimmermann’s last start, don’t worry. It was a carbon copy of almost every other outing he has produced in 2018. He started out strong, holding the Chicago White Sox without a hit through four innings, even striking out four hitters to boot. But then the wheels came off in the fifth, and Zimmerman coughed up four runs. This came after Nicholas Castellanos had gifted Zimmermann (and the rest of his teammates) a 5-0 lead with a pair of home runs. The Tigers eventually won the game, but Zimmermann’s long inning — not helped by some leaky defense, sure — soured what could have been a great all-around win.

And yet, the promise is still there. Zimmermann finished that game with four strikeouts and no walks, giving him a sparkling 4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. He is just a hair under a strikeout per inning, and continues to generate one of the highest whiff rates of his career. If he could only cut down on the big innings, the Tigers might actually have a useable veteran starter on their hands.

So... why is this game at 3 p.m.?

No, it’s not to annoy a team flying from the West Coast (the A’s were in Chicago last weekend anyway). The 60th annual Ford Fireworks are taking place along the Detroit River on Monday evening, and the list of street closures is too long to screenshot. Some of those roads are near Comerica Park, naturally, so it seems easiest for everyone to just have the game take place earlier.

Key matchup: The A’s vs. a very specific home run streak

It’s not exactly surprising that the baseball media is tracking a streak of consecutive road games with a home run — there’s a stat for everything in this game — but this stat still strikes me as rather specific. Either way, the A’s tied the MLB record in said statistic with a home run in their 25th straight away game on Sunday. Sure, they were absolutely walloped in the process, but the A’s are two games over .500 with a +25 run differential away from the O.Co Coliseum this year. Jordan Zimmermann hasn’t exactly been great about limiting dingers since arriving in Detroit, so don’t be surprised if the A’s make it 26 in a row in this game.

Prediction

The Tigers mount a late rally and win via walk-off.

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