Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Joel Zumaya adds to the bullpen an effective (and potentially dominant) reliever. The problem? The Tigers haven't just been searching to replace one reliever - it's been one big shuffle between Triple-A Toledo and Detroit, trying to find anyone that could provide effective innings. While there's no guarantee Zumaya can do that, even if he does, middle relief will still be a huge concern. Of course, there is always the added benefit of the intensity Zumaya brings to the table, an intensity that seems to be lost as of late. So, besides the addition of a reliable reliever in the late innings, hopefully Zumaya can also liven up a club in need of a spirit boost, especially after a rough stretch of baseball.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
The relative impact of Joel Zumaya's return will depend on entirely which Joel Zumaya returns to the team. Does he come back throwing smoke, throwing strikes, and dropping nasty curveballs on unsuspecting hitters? Or does he come back throwing slightly less smoke with slightly less control? Early reports from his outings in Toledo indicate that the trademark triple-digit heat wasn't there; if that is so, the real question becomes has he developed into enough of a pitcher to be effective without the explosiveness of last season? The Tigers bullpen needs all the help it can get right now, and Zumaya's return can only help strengthen one of larger weaknesses on the team; even if he's not completely dominant. The bigger story here is not just the return of Joel Zumaya, but how much of an impact will the return of last year's 7-8-9 combo of Rodney, Zumaya, and Jones impact the Tigers' playoff chances?
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
If he pitches well, he'll be a big difference. One thing that has been sorely missed besides quality pitching out the bullpen has been the swagger that Zumaya brings to the team. He could be the tonic that this team badly needs right now, because they obviously need a pick-me-up. With Zumaya coming back, the Tigers can finally can get some semblance of order for the late innings. Certainly the starting pitching must get a lot better for Zumaya to even be a factor in holding leads in the late going, but if he can be effective, and that's a big if considering his injury, the Tigers could still find themselves playing postseason baseball.
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