Bruce Zimmermann talks about rejoining the Orioles

When last seen in the major leagues, lefty Bruce Zimmermann was really struggling with the Orioles. On June 15 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, the Baltimorean allowed 11 hits and six runs, including three homers, to the Blue Jays. That left his ERA at 5.94 through 13 big league starts and he was optioned to Triple-A the next day.

Zimmermann, who returned to the Orioles active roster today with Beau Sulser optioned out, was recalled to pitch out of the bullpen. He said he was not surprised the team sent him to Norfolk when it did.

After getting off to a fast start this year, his ERA was 9.79 in his last six O’s starts, and in that span he gave up 15 homers over 30 1/3 innings.

“No (not surprised to get sent down then),” he said in the clubhouse today. “My last couple of outings were not what they were compared to the beginning of the year or what I expect of myself or what they expect of a starter in the AL East. It wasn’t a shock.”

So over three games and 18 innings with the Tides, Zimmermann worked on his pitches, his mental outlook, his confidence and tightening up his slider. He returned today feeling better about his pitching and better about getting the feel for his changeup.

He got in work on his mechanics and the mental side of the game.

“Little bit of both I would say. Definitely mechanics was the initial focus – I mean mental is first but – really getting back to the feel I was having the beginning of the season when I was having that success. Take a step back, address what I was doing well there and get back to it. Then obviously build some confidence in less pressure situations. Get some good innings under my belt. Get back to being more efficient and all those things that translate up here," he said.

Zimmermann went 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA for the Tides, allowing 18 hits and nine runs over 18 innings without giving up a home run. He walked six, fanned 20 and had a 1.33 WHIP at Triple-A. In his last outing on Sunday, he gave up three runs in the first inning and then pitched scoreless ball through the seventh, throwing  93 pitches total and getting the win against Gwinnett.

O’s manager Brandon Hyde said for now Zimmermann will be used in a long relief role.

“The last couple of outings, and even the four innings after the first inning my first game, I just really felt more in synch with my mechanics,” said Zimmermann, who posted an ERA of 2.72 in his first seven O’s starts of 2022. “There was a lot less stress to the delivery. I was able to get my pitches back to how they were moving in the beginning of the season, especially the changeup and the slider. And I was able to get a lot more reps with the two-seam that I was working in before I got sent down. So really just was able to attack hitters with my whole arsenal and mix and switch really well. The confidence follows the success. So, was just able to kind of get on a roll in those later games.”

I asked Zimmermann if the feel for his changeup is the biggest thing for him, or if that's overstating it or oversimplifying some of his issues before he was sent down. 

“No I mean, it’s definitely one of the biggest weapons I use and I have to use it pretty often to have success I think, just with the nature of my game. But another big thing is to get a lot more consistency with the two-seam and get the lateness back to the slider as opposed to it was getting kind of big those last few outings and that is why I was getting hit hard. And that was one of the most positive things I saw the last couple of outings there, the slider really, really sharpened up and even ticked up a couple of miles per hour. So, I’m excited and feeling a lot more confident to be back on a big league mound with stuff I know that can work," said Zimmermann. 







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