Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell has the bad news in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Zimmermann Will Miss 18 Months", wherein Mr. Boswell is reporting that the Washington Nationals' top prospect heading into the '09 season, RHP Jordan Zimmermann, will go under the knife to have "ligament-replacement surgery", (more commonly known as "Tommy John Surgery") on his right elbow.
Every fan of the Nationals cringed, I'm sure, when they read that Zimmermann was experiencing "tightness" in his elbow, which is how everyone ever forced to undergo the procedure describes the symptoms, and with the confirmation over the weekend that the 23-year-old right-hander's X-Ray's were being sent to the dreaded Dr. James Andrews, it was a matter of simply awaiting confirmation in most fan's minds. "Acting" DC GM Mike Rizzo told the press that the team will, "...get a third opinion tomorrow," but the Nationals only expect it to confirm Dr. Andrews' diagnosis. Mr. Rizzo then tried to shed the best possible light on the situation, explaining, as quoted in Mr. Boswell's article:
"'The small bit of sunshine is that there is an 85 to 90 percent success rate with pitchers recovering to their pre-injury status after Tommy John surgery. It's a much higher success rate than shoulder [labrum] surgery,' Rizzo added. 'We've got a lot of depth in our young starting pitching, but Jordan was the prize pupil. We'll have him back -- full go -- for spring training '11, though he may pitch sometime in '10. But you'll see the real Zimmermann in '11.'"
2011, huh? The problems first surfaced...
2011, huh? The problems first surfaced...in Zimmermann's 7/18/09 start against the Chicago Cubs, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Zimmermann to DL, Balester to start". Mr. Ladson wrote then that, "Zimmermann started feeling pain during his last start, against the Cubs," but Zimmermann did not seem worried, telling Mr. Ladson:
"'I'm not really concerned at all,' Zimmermann said. 'I'm going to give it a little rest here and come back. I'll have one rehab start and be ready to go.'"
Zimmermann made one start with the Nationals' Class-A affiliate, the Potomac Nationals, and Anthony Masterson, (Broadcast/Media Assistant with the P-Nats), was kind enough to provide a review of Zimmermann's performance, writing that Zimmermann's, "...fastball hit 95 consistently, his curveball had nice tilt to it, and his slider had sharp break to it," and in Mr Masteron's opinion, "He definitely overmatched every hitter he faced in one way or another...", so it was apparently a surprise to everyone, Zimmermann included, when he was held out of a bullpen session last week, as MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported in a blog post entitled, "Nationals have concerns about Zim's elbow", after he experienced pain again while preparing to return to the rotation for tomorrow's first of two games in Atlanta.
Zimmermann's major league career will now be interrupted 16 games after it began. Zim(n) was (3-5) with a 4.63 ERA over 91.1 IP, over which he allowed 95 hits, 51 runs, 47 earned, 10 HR and 29 walks, while striking out 92 batters and holding opponents to a .271 BAA. The Nationals' "Acting" GM told the Post's Mr. Boswell, that, "Zimmermann had shown three 'plus-plus' major league pitches," and, "according to Mr. Rizzo," Mr. Boswell writes, Zimmermann, "...had the kind of special statistical ratios as a rookie that often correlate to top pitchers -- 92 strikeouts and only 29 walks in 91 1/3 innings."
Federal Baseball.com's Doghouse was the first one to post a link to Mr. Boswell's post about Zimmermann's injury here at Federal Baseball. For the immediate response by the DC Faithful, take a look: