Déjà Zoom

You may not want to admit it, but you always feared that Joel Zumaya was one pitch away from another – possibly catastrophic – arm injury. I certainly did.

But as this season wore on, I thought about it less and less. We were finally seeing the Zumaya we enjoyed so much in 2006 — but he was even better. He’d matured physically and mentally and was a reliable late-innings setup man.

When I saw him virtually crumble to the ground after throwing that pitch in the eighth inning — and I don’t remember if it was a ball or strike — I immediately thought the worst. Not that his career was over, but that something happened to his arm that would effect his life long-term. Perhaps as awful as what happened to Dave Dravecky.

I often wondered if Zumaya would benefit from a return to the starting rotation, where he started his career in the minors. He could ease off the gas pedal and pace himself over several innings, not go all-in on every pitch over two innings. Now I’m thinking that’s probably not an option for him either.

Officially, the Tigers are calling it an injury to the elbow and we’ll likely know more about it later today. It certainly doesn’t look like Zumaya will pick up a baseball again this year or even next.

In the fall of 2007 I wrote here that Zumaya could be this generation’s Mark Fidrych — doomed to be remembered as a one-season star.

For a few months this season, I thought Zumaya had put our minds at ease.

But here we are again.