Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg may be the face of the rotation, but Jordan Zimmermann has been the class of it during the 2013 Major League Baseball season. The right-hander has dominated in almost every start this year.
“Jordan was very consistent all of last year, and he has taken it to another level this year,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said, according to Nationals.com.
Zimmermann is tied for first in the National League among starting pitchers in wins (five), first in complete games (2), second in opponent’s batting average (.168), second in WHIP (0.75) and fourth in earned run average (1.64).
Even though the 26-year-old only has 27 strikeouts this season, he has managed to find other ways to record outs. Zimmermann has induced three batters to hit into double plays, posted 61 ground outs (good for third in the NL) and has managed to keep the ball in the ball park by surrendering only two home runs this year.
“When you strike guys out, you waste a lot of pitches,” Zimmermann told Nationals.com. “You try to make nasty pitches in the dirt, and if the hitters don’t swing, you get them back in the count and you end up throwing six or seven pitches to a hitter. You look up and you are throwing 90 pitches by the fifth inning. You are not going to pitch very long.
“I want to go deep in the ballgame. My way of thinking is to throw strikes, and I’m going to let you hit the ball. They’ve been hitting the ball where the defenders are lately.”
The most earned runs Zimmermann has given up this season are three, which only occurred in one game. However, he did manage to toss a complete game and record the win in that contest. Other than that, the four-year veteran has posted two runs or less in five outings, including two starts in which he did not give up a single run.
After Zimmermann’s lone loss this season against the New York Mets on April 21, he has pitched 17 scoreless innings in two starts. The Nationals defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 in the first game after Zimmermann allowed only one hit in nine strong innings. He followed it up with a two-hit, eight-inning performance against a very talented Atlanta Braves team.
The Wisconsin native’s hot start to the season is no fluke. Zimmermann has just begun the year where he left off in 2012. It will be interesting to see if he continues pitching at a high level, especially since he is averaging 96 pitches per game.