Detroit Tigers: Should the Tigers Re-Sign Joel Zumaya?

Ryan Bourdeau@@ryanbourdeauCorrespondent IISeptember 18, 2011

DETROIT - JUNE 17:  Joel Zumaya #54 arms up prior to the start of the eight inning against the Washington Nationals during the game on June 17, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Nationals 8-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Joel Zumaya has become the MLB's version of Greg Oden

When Zumaya is on the mound, he's a beast. The problem is that he's never playing.

Since his dominating rookie year (we'll get to that in a minute), Zoomer has appeared in only 109 games over five seasons. He hasn't pitched in more than 31 games in any one of those seasons. 

Between his fluke injuries (one from Guitar Hero and another from helping his father move some boxes) and his baseball injuries (ruptured finger tendon, fractured right elbow), Zumaya hasn't even been able to stay healthy long enough for many fans to remember he's on the roster most of the time.

But is it time to give up on the oft-injured flame-thrower?

His 2006 rookie season showed so much promise that he had Tiger fans conjuring up images of Goose Gossage. He went 6-3 in 62 appearances, with a 1.94 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He was even better under pressure; his ERA dropped to 1.76 with runners in scoring position and 1.43 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

After a rough couple of years in 2008 and 2009 he was looking like a world beater again in 2010 before the cringe-inducing elbow injury he suffered on the mound against the Minnesota Twins (pitching to Delmon Young, oddly enough).

There is obviously plenty of risk in giving a contract to a man who can't seem to even stay on the field for a quarter of the season anymore. The Tigers do have Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit under contract for next season already after all.

But now that the famed Dr. James Andrews has gone in and replaced the screw in Zumaya's elbow and he's been told there is no long-term structural damage to his arm, I think the potential reward is worth the risk.