Zumaya came into tonight's game with a 3-2 in the seventh inning. Lucas French had pitched five solid innings and Fu-Te Ni a scoreless sixth against the powerful Yankees offense. Zumaya came in with a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning and fans feared the worst. Their fears were realized when Joel allowed five hits included a three run homer to Mark Teixeira. Another lead was blown and the Tigers lost 5-3.
Zoom has now blown five leads and two ties since June 7. His resume looks like this:
June 7 - Came into a tie game in the 7th inning versus the Angels, pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed three walks including a bases loaded walk to Howie Kendrick in the 8th. The Tigers saved him by coming back to win 9-6.
June 8 - In the first game of a doubleheader versus the White Sox, Zumaya gave up a game tying home run to Paul Konerko in the 8th inning. The Tigers again bailed him out winning 5-4.
June 11 - After a Curtis Granderson homer tied it in the top of the ninth, Zoom made an error and allowed two hits and a run to lose it 4-3 versus the White Sox.
June 23 - Came in with a 3-2 lead in the 8th and surrendered a two run homer to the Cubs Micah Hoffpauir. The Tigers won 5-4 on a pinch hit walkoff homer by Ryan Raburn.
June 26 - Pitching with a 4-3 lead in the 8th inning versus the Astros, Joel allowed three straight walks and two runs and the Tigers lost 5-4.
July 6 - Gave up a two run triple to Willie Bloomquist to blow a 2-1 lead in the 8th versus the Royals. The Tigers lost 4-3.
July 17 - See above
So, what do the Tigers do about Zumaya? It's clear that Jim Leyland needs to stop bringing him into close games in the late innings but they can't give up on him. After his great rookie season, his next two seasons have been marred by serious injuries which limited him to 57 innings total. Given the nature of his shoulder injuries, I was not counting on him to pitch much this year at all and I'm amazed that he has lost no speed. He still consistently throws his fast ball 100+ MPH and has a nasty curveball when he can throw it for strikes.
The problem is his control has been awful - 22 walks in 31 innings. He has also been hit very hard at times, harder than a man with his stuff should be hit. They can't release him and he has little trade value at the moment but I believe he still has a great deal of potential if he can stay healthy. The best thing to do might be to send him to Toledo for a couple of weeks to work on his control and command issues in a lower pressure environment. One thing is clear though. Continuing to bring him into key situations in the middle of a divisional race should not be an option.