While he held batters to a .187 batting average in 2006, he was even tougher with runners in scoring position (.176), and 2 outs and runners in scoring position (.143). Zumaya remained in the bullpen for the 2006 playoffs.
His future as a starter or reliever has not yet been determined. Zumaya has stated that he prefers the bullpen, although has said that he'd start if given the chance. Zumaya was sidelined for the 2006 American League Championship Series by a sore wrist, which Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski disclosed in a December 2006 radio interview was due to Zumaya playing the PlayStation 2 video game Guitar Hero. On the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II, the credits read "No pitchers were harmed in the making of this game. Except for one. Joel Zumaya. He had it coming.
In May , he ruptured a tendon in his hand, requiring surgery and 12 weeks rehab. On August 20, 2007, the Tigers activated Zumaya from the 15-day disabled list after not playing since May 1. The next day, he made his first major league appearance following the injury, pitching to one batter in a game against the Cleveland Indians.
During the 2007 season, the Tigers drafted Zumaya's brother, Richard Zumaya, who signed with the Tigers and spent the rest of the season pitching with the GCL Tigers.
Zumaya sustained another injury, this time to his shoulder, during the 2007 offseason. While helping his father move some boxes in the attic, a 50-60 pound box fell on his shoulder, separating it. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list. After appearing in six successful minor league rehab games for the Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers and Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, Zumaya rejoined the Tigers on June 20, .
The reliability of radar guns used at MLB games more recently has been questioned. USA Today columnist Mike Lopresti reported that FOX was using radar guns which recorded speeds 3 to 4 miles an hour faster than the readings on the McAfee Coliseum radar guns in Game 1 of the 2006 American League Championship Series.
During the 2006 season, Zumaya often threw pitches that were clocked at or above the official record reading of 101 mph. On July 3, 2006, at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney each threw multiple fastballs clocked in at over 100 MPH, becoming the first time in MLB history that 3 pitchers, on the same team, had done so during 1 game, just 5 games into the season they became the first MLB team to have 3 pitchers, the same 3, throw over 100 MPH in a season. On July 4, 2006, at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California, Zumaya threw a pitch clocked at 103 mph, thus tying the "unofficial" record held by Wohlers. On July 20, 2006, in a game against the Chicago White Sox, Zumaya threw a fastball that television speedguns recorded at 104 MPH, but it has not yet been decided if this speed will be recognized. Similarly, on May 20, 2006, Zumaya gave up a grand slam to Ken Griffey, Jr. on a pitch that FSN Detroit's radar gun clocked at 104 mph, but it was concluded that the fastball was 100 mph, and the ball that was hit was traveling 104 mph.
Zumaya hit 104 mph on the Comerica Park radar gun on August 7, while pitching against Minnesota Twins infielder Nick Punto. Zumaya reached 101 mph or higher on 5 of 6 pitches during the at-bat. He also reached 103 mph during the Tigers' 4-3 playoff victory at Yankee Stadium on October 5, 2006; and also on October 10, 2006, during Game 1 of the ALCS in Oakland, against the A's.
Despite the accuracy of radar guns being in question, it is likely that Zumaya throws some of the fastest pitches in baseball. By contrast, other pitchers have reached 100 mph on television radar guns, but do not usually reach 103 mph (this group includes Bobby Jenks, Kyle Farnsworth, and Billy Wagner, among others). If the readings are in fact inflated by 3 to 4 miles per hour, then Zumaya would really feature a 100 mph fastball, while other pitchers would clock in at 97-98 mph. In an interview for Detroit radio station WRIF, former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain stated that he believed the numbers on stadium and television radar guns were inflated. However, he also claimed that Zumaya had the most consistently fast pitches he had seen in person since Nolan Ryan and former Houston Astro J.R. Richard.
With no scientific evidence (such as Nolan Ryan's infrared radar pitch), the true speed of Joel Zumaya's fastball remains a matter of interpretation or perspective.
However there is a new technology on the horizon that reads pitch speeds more accurately and does not inflate those numbers. It uses cameras and software to obtain the data. This new technology comes from Major League Baseball in its Advanced Media section. Part of Enhanced Gameday tracks pitch speed, break, and trajectory. One pitch registered on this was clocked at 104.8 mph at release by Joel Zumaya. This was during Game 1 of the ALCS against Frank Thomas of the Oakland Athletics on October 10, 2006, at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum (other readings were at 103 mph; the slowest reading was 102 mph).
It should be noted that temperature, wind velocity, barometric pressure, and other factors can affect the speed of a pitch. Historically, baseball has seen both the height of the mound moved up, and the mound moved back (1890s), which could be factors in comparing the fastest pitchers of all time.
After the 2006 season, The Bill James Handbook published a list of pitchers and the number of their pitches thrown at 100 mph or more. Zumaya led the Major Leagues with 233, while Kyle Farnsworth was second with 26. The National League leader was Billy Wagner, with 5. Zumaya's average fastball was an astonishing 98.6 mph, with 100+ mph fastballs coming every 1 out of 6 pitches.
During a March 30, 2007, spring training game against the New York Yankees, the Joker Marchant Stadium speedgun reported one of his pitches as being 107 MPH; however, his fastest fastball in terms of actual speed during that game was 103.
During an April 21, 2007 game against the Chicago White Sox, Zumaya hit 104 MPH on the Comerica Park radar gun.
Sea Dogs subdued by hot prospect ; Joel Zumaya pitches Erie to a 9-0 victory, ending Portland's winning streak at seven games.
Jun 18, 2005; KEVIN THOMAS Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (Maine) 06-18-2005 Sea Dogs subdued by hot prospect ; Joel Zumaya pitches Erie to...
Injuries already are piling up ... and it's not even March yet; The Twins have had plenty of experience consoling teammates, and it's Joel Zumaya's turn.(SPORTS)
Mar 02, 2012; Byline: LA VELLE E. NEAL III; STAFF WRITER FORT MYERS, FLA. - Two days after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament -- an injury...