Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez until Spring Training. Enjoy.
People expected big things in 2012 from Jordan Zimmermann after a successful, albeit abbreviated, 2011 season as he returned from Tommy John surgery. He certainly did not disappoint as one of the Washington Nationals’ most consistent pitchers last season.
Zimmermann was on an innings limit in 2011, much like Stephen Strasburg was in 2012, so last season was JZimm’s first full season without a hard limit. He sure came out firing. In his first 21 starts of the season, he pitched at least six innings and posted an unbelievable 2.28 ERA during that time. Zimmermann did appear to tire through the rest of the season, though.
In August, he made it through the sixth inning only once in five starts, and opponents hit .290 against him. It led some to question if he was hitting the wall because of an incomplete 2011 season. After a dreadful start on September 1 where he gave up eight runs, Zimmermann settled down for his final five starts of the regular season. He made it through at least six innings in four of those five starts with a 2.61 ERA.
Jordan Zimmermann’s postseason was a whole different type of thing. He started Game Two of the NLDS and didn’t make it to the fourth inning en route to a 12-4 Nationals loss. Game Four was different, as Zimmermann entered in relief for the first time in his career. He struck out the side, hitting 97 mph on the gun and throwing some of the nastiest sliders in his career, in the seventh inning to help set up Jayson Werth’s magical walk off home run. The picture included in this post is of JZimm walking off the field that inning. I've never seen him that fired up. Here’s some video of Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen doing work in that game.
All told, Jordan Zimmermann had an extremely successfully season. He proved his value to a team that lives and dies by its pitching and has solidified himself as one of the best, if not the best, number three starters in all of baseball. He’s a core piece to one of the best pitching staffs in the league. As of this post, Zimmermann is the last player who has not agreed to a deal for 2013, and it appears that his contract will go to arbitration in February unless the Nats ink a long-term deal with him before then.
Next year: As I just wrote, Zimmermann is an integral part of this pitching staff, and against other number three pitchers in baseball, there’s not a single one I’d rather have. I expect Zimmermann to hit the 200 inning mark for the first time in his career in 2013. He was less than five innings short of that milestone in 2012, and with another year under his belt, it seems like a completely reasonable expectation.
Next up: #28 Jayson Werth