For the second year in a row, Jordan Zimmermann will take the ball on Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers. Manager Ron Gardenhire announced the move on Sunday morning, confirming what most of us expected for a large part of the spring.
Zimmermann will take the mound against Toronto’s Marcus Stroman at Rogers Centre on Thursday, March 28. The Tigers open the season with seven consecutive road games — four in Toronto, then three in New York against the Yankees — before their home opener at Comerica Park on Thursday, April 4.
We do not know how the rest of the rotation will shake out yet, but keep an eye on who starts the Tigers’ third game of the season (Saturday, March 30). Assuming the Tigers keep a standard five-man rotation through the first week of the season, that player will be in line to start the Tigers’ home opener the following week. Currently, the Tigers have Zimmermann, Matthew Boyd, Matt Moore, and Tyson Ross in their rotation. Spencer Turnbull seems to have the edge over Daniel Norris for the final spot in the rotation, which is now vacant after Michael Fulmer suffered a season-ending elbow injury.
Zimmermann struck out eight hitters in his Opening Day start against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, but allowed four runs in six innings of work. He went on to have arguably his best season as a Tiger, with a 4.52 ERA and 4.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 131 1⁄3 innings. His spring has been up and down, with a 5.19 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 17 1⁄3 innings. He struck out four and allowed three runs in four innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, his final tune-up outing before next week’s season opener.