Jordan Zimmermann has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 19 (his last start), with right elbow pain.
This is quite a little scare for the Nationals as Zimmermann was the clubs to prospect going into 2009 and has proven to have the talent to soon be the Nationals best pitcher.
Elbow pain is tricky. It can sometimes be nothing, or as we have seen with Shawn Hill, it can sometimes mean the absolute end of a career.
The good news for the Nationals, and for Zimmermann, is that this problem was caught early. Zimmermann had struggled in his last three starts, allowing 13 runs in his last 16 innings pitched. This of course is a much higher rate than the amount of runs he was giving up in the middle of the season, proof that the elbow problem was effecting his delivery.
Hopefully this is nothing rest can’t fix.
It is not likely that this injury is the cause of overwork. In 2007 and 2008 he pitched 134 innings in both seasons between single, double, and triple A. This yea he has only pitched 96 innings between triple A and the majors.
The Nationals have not set a timetable for his return.
Taking Zimmerman’s spot in the rotation will be starting pitcher Collin Ballester. Ballester had 15 starts for the Nationals last season where he posted a 3-7 record and a 5.51 ERA. Through 19 starts in Syracuse this year he is 7-9 with a 4.35 ERA.
Many had expected Ballester to make the big league club out of spring training this year, and there were high hopes for his development. He quickly squashed those dreams with a poor camp, and an even more disappointing performance in Syracuse. The big righty will get his chance now however as injuries have limited the options of the Nationals front office. This very well may be Ballester’s last real shot at maintaining his prospect status.