While it's not that dramatic, he could have thrown his last pitch this season.
The Tigers placed their oft-injured, right-handed reliever on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday afternoon with a sore right shoulder. There is no official timetable for his return.
Zumaya has a great deal of inflammation in the shoulder after breaking up scar tissue from his rare surgery last fall. He felt the tissue rip during his final pitch of a disastrous outing on Tuesday in which earned his fourth blown save in his past 10 appearances.
"It felt like my arm exploded, and I thought my career was completely over," Zumaya said. "I'm going to watch it until I'm 100 percent, and that might not be until next year.
"I'm trying to be a hero and come back as soon as I can, but it's not working."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland actually felt relieved upon hearing Zumaya's health report.
"It's great news that it wasn't an elbow or a shoulder [injury], or anything like that," the skipper said. "So from my stance, that's great, great news. I think it's another relief for Joel, because I think he's been concerned about it. Hopefully, this is the tail end of the process for the whole thing. Hopefully, he'll be ready by Spring Training or possibly again this year."
To take Zumaya's roster spot, the Tigers recalled relief pitcher Francis Beltran from Triple-A Toledo for his second Major League stint this season. He was 2-5 with a 4.81 ERA at Toledo. Leyland said he will use Beltran in relief up until the seventh inning.
This recent injury added to Zumaya's long list of health troubles since breaking into the Majors in 2006.
He missed three months with a finger strain last season and sat out half of this year after surgery on his acromioclavicular joint, which connects the shoulder to the rest of the body. The fireballer has also missed games with fatigue and minor bumps and bruises since his return to the bullpen in late June.
"Obviously, I'm going through some stuff that nobody expected," Zumaya said. "Hopefully, we can get over this as quick as we can. It's getting pretty old, and I'm getting tired of it."
Zumaya took the loss in Tuesday's 6-4 decision against the Blue Jays at Comerica Park. He did not retire a batter, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks.
Usually a fan favorite, Zumaya exited the game to a heavy helping of boos.
"I think it's pretty lame," Zumaya said of the jeers. "I give it all I got, everything I got when I go out there. Pitching hurt and giving it everything I got, to deserve that, it's ... whatever. I don't really care. I don't care at all."
Zumaya said he would not touch a baseball for at least 12 days. He and the team do not want to push it and risk further injury.
He's been through enough.
"There could be people that are going to be upset, but I'm not going to pitch until my arm is 100 percent," he said. "I've been trying to be a hero, and it's bringing this team down instead of bringing them up.
"I was trying to be a hero, and it could have ended my career [Tuesday] night. I'm trying to go out and help this team win, and [stuff] happens."
Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.