Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Zimmermann’s 2nd start back…

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At the risk of sounding TOO optimistic (like perhaps the ever rosy Thomas Boswell in today’s WP column), Jordan Zimmermann looked awfully good last night in his 2nd start back (gamer and box score from  He went 6 complete innings, gave up 1 hit (a double by Sanchez that was erased on a great outfield assist from Bernadina), struck out 9 and finished on 86 pitches before being lifted.  He could have gone more, but why would you at this point in the season with a guy coming back from injury?

Zimmermann’s effort is probably the 2nd best/2nd most dominant pitching performance of the year (behind Strasburg‘s 14k debut 6/8/10) from any Nats starter.  Per the pitch f/x data he hit 94 once, touched 93 a few times and averaged 91.79 on his 65 fastballs on the night.

(side note; just goes to show you can NOT trust the stadium Guns, ever, as they had Zimmermann on 96 in the first inning several times, which means that the stadium gun was at least 3mph faster than reality).

It is hard to gauge the breakdown of pitches though; per the f/x data he only threw one changeup, yet was quoted in the gamer as saying that his changeup felt great.  I’m guessing that some of the pitches classified as “sliders” were in reality changeups, and that the variation of speeds between his slider and curve screwed up the pitch classification.  Either way, his curve was definitely faster and less loopy than his previous start.  By pounding so many fastballs he showed that he has dominant enough stuff to challenge a pretty decent hitting Marlins team.  Zero walks and 86 pitches to finish 6 innings means he had pretty good control.

Unless the Nats are specifically NOT calling changeups after what happened to Strasburg?  That’d be a bad precedent.

On the season, Zimmermann now has 13ks and 1 walk in 10 innings.  That’s something to build on.  I’ve always thought that best-case Zimmermann had the capabilities to be a great #2 starter on a good team, and performances like last night are indicitave of that and much more.

Written by Todd Boss

September 1st, 2010 at 9:31 am

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