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Milwaukee Brewers sign Jordan Zimmermann to minor league contract

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A native son might come home.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers are bringing a native son into the fold. They signed veteran pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp.

Zimmermann turns 35 in May, and was once a very good pitcher. You might remember, Zimmermann parlayed his success as a top-of-the-rotation arm to sign a lucrative deal with the Detroit Tigers going into the 2016 season. The 5-year, $110 million deal turned out to be a disaster for Detroit. In 3 of the 5 seasons with Detroit, he posted an ERA above 6.00, and in the other two season he posted an ERA of 4.87 in 2016 and 4.52 in 2018.

Zimmermann’s performance in Detroit was a far cry from what he accomplished in Washington. From 2011-2015, Zimmermann covered 971.2 innings while posted a 3.14 ERA and 3.30 FIP in that time period. Zimmermann was a really good starting pitcher.

That was a long time ago. Zimmermann battled multiple injuries to his forearm, back, shoulder, and UCL. Injuries have taken their toll as he has dropped 4 mph off his fastball over the years. And there is no reason to believe his velocity will come back at this stage in his career.

With that in mind, Brewers’ fans should temper their enthusiasm if they are thinking about the Jordan Zimmermann that was. What he has been able to do, even with Detroit, is maintain excellent control. He also has generated average-to-above-average spin on his fastball. Unfortunately that has not lent itself to eliminating hard contact.

MLB Percentiles for Jordan Zimmerman in 2019
Baseball Savant

If Jordan Zimmermann can find something with Milwaukee’s pitching gurus working in their lab, maybe he can become a back-end starter or swingman. He could certainly help a relatively young pitching staff with his veteran presence, because he has been a winner — albeit six years ago.