When it comes to the Washington Nationals rotation, it can be kind of hard when it comes to naming who the true ace of the staff is. It’s not entirely surprising, especially with the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and now Doug Fister. Needless to say, pitching should and has not been an issue for the Nationals.
Though Washington had what many consider a down year in 2013 despite winning 86 games, one player who did not have a down year was Zimmermann. He was the definition of a hard luck pitcher for Washington for years, putting up strong start after strong start only to lack the run support he needed leading to no decision after no decision. In 2013, that was not the case as Zimmermann finished 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA a year after a 2.94 ERA and a 12-8 record. Zimmermann was an All-Star for the first time in his career and finished seventh in Cy Young award voting. Zimmermann also set a career high in innings with 213.1, increasing his innings total for the third consecutive season.
So, what can be expected of Zimmermann in 2014, aside from a possible contract extension?
Well, it can definitely be hard to predict a pitcher’s production as many factors need to be considered. Take Zimmermann’s teammate Gonzalez, for example. In 2012, Gonzalez was nothing short of stellar, going 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA. Gonzalez finished third in Cy Young award voting, was an All-Star and even got a few MVP votes. 2013 was pretty different, however, as he went 11-8 with a 3.36 ERA winning ten less games and watching his ERA balloon by almost half a run. His strikeout numbers stayed around his career norms, and he was able to have his walks plateau.
Pitchers — especially starters — are hard to predict because they can be very dependent on their team’s productivity. Zimmermann started 32 games in 2012 and only got 20 decisions, thus the 12-8 record and 12 no-decisions. Zimmerman starts the same amount of games in 2013 and only had four no-decisions, thus the 19-9 record. It was the exact same case with Gonzalez who had 13 no-decisions this year and only three in 2012. Pitcher wins really are not as important as people make them out to be. Whether they want the win eliminated or not, anyone with an understanding of pitchers knows wins do not matter. However, I think it is pretty safe to say Zimmermann will again have a strong campaign in 2014, especially since he will be entering his age 28 season.
I think it would be safe to expect numbers in this neighborhood for Zimmermann: 17-6/2.95 ERA/210.2 IP/184 H/173 K