Jordan Zimmermann is making it difficult for Nationals’ manager Manny Acta to consider sending him back to AAA this season.
Zimmerman, no relation to Washington’s star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, has pitched 8 1/3 innings this Grapefruit League season and has not been scored upon. Add ten strikeouts to that and you’ll see why the Nationals are so excited about their second round pick in the 2006 amateur draft.
The 22-year-old right-hander was 10-3, with a 2.89 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 2008. Add to that 134 strikeouts in 134 innings. Unfortunately, most of that work was done at the Single-A level; only 27 1/3 innnings were tossed at the Double-A level.
Zimmerman throws a 4-seam fastball and sometimes mixes in a 2-seamer that tops out at 93 – 94. He mixes in a slider, probably his best pitch, at 87 MPH. He also tosses a curve ball and the Nationals are working with him to improve a changeup that Acta believes he needs to take some zip off of at 79 MPH.
“I like to get ahead with the fastball,” said Zimmerman.” Late in the game, I like to start guys out with a curve ball and put them away with a slider.”
“He continues to impress everybody here,” said Acta.
Zimmerman is making a bid to be the second Zimmerman on the Nationals when they break camp in a couple of weeks. He’ll challenge for the fifth starter position. John Lannon and Scott Olsen are #1 and #2 respectively. Shawn Hill, who spent two stints on the DL last year, remains a question mark after a 1-5, 5.83 year. Daniel Cabrera will likely hold down the # 4 spot after five seasons with the Orioles. Cabrera walked a batter for every two innings pitched last year and can be a real fantasy baseball risk due to his high WHIP.
In the mix for the # 5 spot is Collin Balister (3-7, 5.57) and Shairon Martis (1-3, 5.66) who is younger than Zimmerman at just 21-years-old. So, it’s not like Zimmerman is competing with Sandy Koufax for that fifth rotation spot.
Jordan Zimmerman is off to a great spring training spot, but the Nationals, although improved, don’t figure to compete for anything but fifth place in National League East this year. Given he has less than 30 innings at Double-A or higher, it may be best for Zimmerman to get more seasoning in Triple-A this year. If Jordan Zimmerman breaks camp with the Nationals, however, he’s an interesting late round 2009 sleeper pick in National League only fantasy baseball leagues.