Ah, the Giancarlo Stanton-less Miami Marlins. They’re pretty much MLB‘s automatic win button for opposing teams these days, and were just what the Washington Nationals needed to see after coming off a disheartening weekend sweep at the hands of divisional rival Atlanta Braves.
Though the 10-2 Washington victory was essentially over before Jordan Zimmermann ever even stepped on the mound, it shouldn’t take anything away from the performance that he delivered.
Hey, someone needed to get the outs, and on this particular day, Zimmermann got all of them, going the full nine innings for the first time in his career for his second-ever complete game. As expected, the right-hander was sharp for most of the outing, walking just one and striking out six.
That’s not to say that he never ran into any speed bumps, though. In fact, there were moments in the sixth and seventh inning (around the 65-70 pitch mark on) where the Nationals bullpen even stirred with some action as the 26-year old was touched up (or BABIP’d, depending on how you look at it) for three runs.
It didn’t break Zimmermann, however, and he just continued doing what had got him through — getting ground balls (14-4 GO-AO, including the final three outs) until they turned into regular outs again.
The 103-pitch performance was one that showed poise under pressure (well, as much pressure as you could call a 10-run lead) and Marlins or not, it’s one that could be used to gauge his continued post-Tommy John growth into the top-of-the-rotation role that he was meant for as a former top pitching prospect.
In 2012, the start would have likely ended with him running out of gas in the seventh inning. That he continue on and got the outs to finish the game is an effort should not be understated.
Yeah, it did give him his third win, but more significantly, you could once again make the argument his 2.45/1.09 ERA/WHIP makes him the early front-runner in the Nationals’ rotation trio that also includes Gio Gonzalez (4.50/1.25) and Stephen Strasburg (2.95/1.20).
Not that those who followed the Nationals last season should not be surprised by this, though, as Zimm did post a 2.61/1.12 ERA/WHIP though the first half then before slowing in the final months of the season.
He might still be behind the screen of those two stars for now, mostly because he doesn’t put up the gaudy strikeouts, but the Nationals’ third ace isn’t going to stay there for long if he’s finally able to find that second gear in games that got him through on Monday.