Why Joel Zumaya Is Overrated

Blake VandeBunteContributor IJuly 18, 2009

ST LOUIS - OCTOBER 26:  Relief pitcher Joel Zumaya #54 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after throwing a wild pitch to Juan Encarnacion #43 of the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning of Game Four of the 2006 World Series on October 26, 2006 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals defeated the Tigers 5-4 to take a 3-1 series lead.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I’ve had it with Joel Zumaya.  Why is it that he’s the Tigers eighth-inning guy?  Why is he considered the stopper?  Not to be too obvious, but what is he stopping exactly?  Tigers wins?  I’ve had it with the guy.

I wonder if the Tigers have thought about sending him back down to the minors to work on his game.  He’s only 24 years old and could still have a great career ahead of him.

Zumaya has exactly one full season to his credit and that’s seeming further and further away with each blown lead.  He threw 83.1 innings back in 2006 and hasn’t topped the 34-inning mark in a season since then (he’s thrown 31 this season).

Taking a quick look at Zumaya’s numbers, there are numerous pieces of evidence that show how far he has fallen.  Consider the following:


K/BB Ratio

  • 2006: 2.31
  • 2007-2009: 1.29


K/9 innings

  • 2006: 10.5
  • 2007-2009: 8.1


BB/9 innings

  • 2006: 4.5
  • 2007-2009: 6.2


HR/ 9 innings

  • 2006: 0.6
  • 2007-2009: 1.1


H/9 innings

  • 2006: 6.0
  • 2007-2009: 8.3


Is that enough for you?  It seems to me that this should be cause for serious alarm.  This guy is still one of the Tigers top young prospects (even though he’s not technically a prospect).  At some point they have to take care of him.

Just to pound my point home a bit more, here are the dates this season where Zumaya entered with a lead or a tie and left the game after giving up the lead or the tie.  This will blow your mind, at least it should:

That’s NINE times in two and a half months where Zumaya did the exact opposite of what he’s expected to do.  There have been a handful of other games where he’s let a Tigers lead dwindle or helped a close game get out of control.  Those games above are just the games he’s directly given away.  Wow.  I hate to say this, but I don’t think that Todd Jones ever even had a run that was that bad.

So what is it about Zumaya that keeps him in there as the Tigers “stopper”?  Is it because he has tattoos of flames on his arms?  Is it because he has a badass entrance song?  Is it because he throws 102 mph and people like that?  Because, if you look at the numbers, there’s really no reason for him to be pitching any later in than the sixth inning.

It’s time to do something about his role on this team.