Jordan Zimmermann is part of the best pitching staff in Major League Baseball, and he has the third-highest pitching WAR among that incredible group. Since he was the number three starter at the beginning of the year behind young star Stephen Strasburg and newly acquired Gio Gonzalez, his talent went under the radar. It’s time for that to stop and give JZimm and his value some due credit.
The thing that is so impressive about Zimmermann flying under the radar is that his success is not isolated when compared with last season. Last season was an abbreviated year for him, because he was in his first season back from Tommy John surgery like Strasburg is this year, but his numbers were incredibly impressive. He posted a 3.18 ERA with a consistent 3.16 FIP and a 3.4 WAR in 161 1/3 innings. This season, he’s better.
After Saturday evening’s gem in Milwaukee, the first start in the Wisconsin-native’s home state, he has the fourth-lowest ERA in baseball at 2.28, and he already has a 2.6 WAR with more than two months of baseball remaining. There will be no inning limit for Zimmermann this year, and he’s already thrown 134 1/3 innings this season. That 2.6 WAR is good for top 10 WAR in NL, and his teammates Strasburg and Gonzalez rank above him.
An aspect of Zimmermann’s game that sometimes goes unnoticed: he throws really, really hard. He averages the third-highest fastball velocity (93.6) in NL behind Strasburg and Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. He does so with command and without having much of a changeup pitch. He also has a relatively low 6.43 K/9, but he remains effective. To contrast, Strasburg leads baseball with 11.58 K/9, and Gonzalez isn’t far behind him with 10.14 K/9.
The only thing to be concerned about with Zimmermann at this point in the season is his difficulty getting his shoulder loose lately while playing catch. According to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, Davey Johnson said, “We’re a little concerned about that. We’re holding all his pitches down. He’s fine. But it concerns me anytime someone has a little trouble getting loose. Anytime any little thing goes on like that, it concerns me.”
The national media should spend a lot more time talking about this rather than the loss of Strasburg once his still unconfirmed inning limit is reached. Jordan Zimmermann has unequivocally been the Nats most consistent starter this season. He has completed six innings or more in 21 consecutive starts, which is the second-longest active streak to Justin Verlander, and is the longest in the NL. If the Nats do make the playoffs, Zimmermann’s ability to continue a similar streak will be vital to their success, and it’s time for him to get noticed outside of DC.