The value of Washington Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann may have increased with recent reports linking Gio Gonzalez to biochemist Anthony Bosch and performance-enhancing drugs. Zimmermann is up for arbitration next month. He and the Nationals will be at the mercy of the judge as to what his deal will be. Before the PED report mentioning Gonzalez was released, Zimmermann was expected to be Washington’s third or fourth starter. Now, he could end up moving into the two spot if Gonzalez ends up on suspension.
No matter what happens to Gonzalez, it will not affect Zimmermann’s arbitration case. Zimmermann will be paid what the courts deem he is worth. Where it will affect Zimmermann is in spring training and during the season.
If Gonzalez is on the opening day roster, Zimmermann will continue to pitch in the middle of the rotation. This is where he went 12-8 for the Nationals in 2012. When ace Stephen Strasburg was shut down after pitching 160 innings last season, Zimmermann moved up to the number-two spot. It was there where he pitched in the post season against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his only start, Zimmermann was hammered in game two by the Cardinals. He did much better in a seventh inning, game four relief role, striking out the side on 12 pitches.
If Gonzalez is suspended on opening day, then Washington will have to find another starter. It is unlikely that they will find one on the MLB market the caliber of Gonzalez and, the Nationals already let John Lannan sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Last year’s fifth starter, Edwin Jackson, signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs. He was replaced by free agent pick up Dan Haren. So without Gonzalez, Washington would be left with four starters instead of five.
Zimmermann is coming off of his first full season back from Tommy John surgery performed in 2009. When the Nationals drafted him, he was expected to pitch at the top of the rotation, at either the number one or two spot. With Strasburg penciled in to be the ace, Zimmermann would end up taking over the number two spot if Washington can not come up with someone to replace Gonzalez.
A number two starter has much more value than a number three. A number two starter is expected to carry the momentum from a win by the number one. A number two is, also, expected to pick up the slack when an ace loses. Both Strasburg and Gonzalez did this in 2012 and Zimmermann may be asked to in 2013.
The unfortunate report of Gonzalez being linked to PED’s has changed the whole dynamics of the Nationals pitching staff. The organization must now make contingency plans in case they lose Gonzalez to suspension. One can be certain that General Manager Mike Rizzo is already on the case.
No matter what Washington’s plans are, for now, the value of Jordan Zimmermann and his role with the team has definitely increased.