Get To Know A Nat: Jordan Zimmermann

I call this my "A-Ha" Camera setting.

I call this my “A-Ha” Camera setting.

Welcome to “Get To Know a Nat.” There are currently 39 men on the 40 man roster, and we’re going to give you the straight scoop on all of them!  Not sure where to start with player and season previews?  Not ready to jump into heavy metrics?  Just want to get to know the players, what they do, and what to expect from them in 2013?  Then you’ve come to the right place!

Name: Jordan M. Zimmermann
Nickname(s): JZ, ZNN, J-Zimm
DOB: May 23, 1986 (Age 26)
Twitter?: Nope.
From: Auburndale, Wisconsin
Position: Starting Pitcher  Rotation: Third Pitcher
Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Drafted in 2007. Debuted in 2009.

Jordan Zimmermann (never forget the second ‘N’ folks) may be the prototypical Nationals development player. The Nats were awarded compensatory draft picks in 2007 for letting the overpriced Alfonso Soriano leave as a free agent.  With an extra second round pick they picked up JZimm (Cue the “Nationals don’t much overpay for players, and have developed great talent” storyline).

Two and half years ago, JZimm was also part of the “we take care of our pitchers” storyline the Nationals like to promote.  After Tommy John surgery in 2009, JZ has slowly but surely been worked back into the rotation-foreshadowing the team’s attitude in Strasburg-Gate last year.  Although bringing JZ up to speed slowly is much easier to do in the wasteland years of 2010 and 2011 than, say, shutting down your ace in a pennant race, it’s still consistent with the Nationals philosophy now being used.  (Ask top draft pick Lucas Giolito, he’ll tell you).

This year the Nationals best-pitcher-no-one-has-heard-of will again be pitching third, behind Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg- and the Nationals will be in the midst of trying to sign JZ to a long term deal.  What makes for an excellent pitcher, however, also makes for an expensive one. In 2013, JZ will be in position to break the bank.

What’s Expected:  Zimmermann could be a top of the rotation pitcher for a lot of teams, but he won’t have quite the mismatches the team hopes Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler will have.  Still, more often than not, the Nationals will have no excuses on the mound when the third spot in the rotation comes around.

JZ is a hard (and I mean hard) throwing right-hander.  Fangraphs puts his average fastball at nearly 94MPH (going up each year since his Tommy John year of 2010), which made him the third hardest thrower in the NL (Strasburg is first).  His Slider (~86 MPH) and Curveball (~78MPH) come in at significantly slower speeds-making for a lot of off balance hitters.  When he locates his pitches, you have to pick your poison-are you going to wait on a slider or curve, or the fastball.  If you don’t guess right, you have very little chance to adjust given how different the pitchers are.  How does that bear out statistically?  Baseball-Reference to the rescue:

Click for Larger

Click for Larger

As I wrote about with Dan Haren, Zimmermann is a great pitcher because just doesn’t give you bases for free.  43 walks is incredibly low for a guy who faced more than 800 batters last year.  It speaks to his ability to not only throw great pitches, but to throw them for strikes.  The better news is that while that is the most walks he ever issued in a year, it was also the most innings he ever pitched in a year and he added 29 more strikeouts to go with his extra 12 walks.  Not quite 3 to 1, but his overall BB/SO ratio is very good-Top 15 good the last two years.

Also, fun fact:  Jordan Zimmerman is one of 46 pitchers to throw an immaculate inning.

If It All Goes Wrong:  This year, Zimmermann will likely be topping over 200 innings pitched-and that is a new plateau for him.  While everything looks hunky-dory with his elbow, the full extent of things like Tommy John’s surgery aren’t fully known, and there is no real way to predict how individuals will differ in their recovery and performance.  I suppose that would be the way it would go wrong here.  If Zim’s velocity drops, or he can’t locate his pitches, that’s the end of that.  It’s a very generic statement for pitchers, I know-but I think there is very little reason (other than injury, new or old) to doubt his ability to pitch this year.  If he is simply less effective, it might mean moving him down to the fifth spot and moving Ross Detwiler or Dan Haren up.  I’m guessing that even less effective JZ would still be effective down there.

If It All Goes Right:  FOX sports will not stop talking about what a great weapon the Nationals have in this NLCS series in their third pitcher Jordan Zimmermann.  The quiet star behind the two household names will be greatly increasing his 2014 arbitration numbers, and the overall price of an extension to keep him in a Washington Nationals uniform beyond 2016.  Someone somewhere will write an article that if he was simply in a top 2 spot in a rotation somewhere, he’d be getting Cy Young votes.  Maybe, if we’re all lucky, we’ll all see JZ do another one of those fist pumps in post-season joy again.

Get To Know More Nats!

Starting Rotation: Ross Detwiler, Dan Haren
Outfielders: Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth
Catchers: Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki
Infielders: Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche
Bench: Tyler Moore, Roger Bernadina
Bullpen: Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen
Callups: Part I, Part II

12 thoughts on “Get To Know A Nat: Jordan Zimmermann

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