WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13: Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park on April 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Ross Detwiler gave up a grand slam, all four of the runs unearned, in the top of the first against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. The left-hander managed to hang around for 5.0 innings, however, giving up another run but avoiding the loss when Washington rallied to tie it. The Nationals eventually lost 8-5 in extra innings, but Detwiler was picked up by his teammates after an eventful first full of errors, missed calls and questionable judgement on the part of that game's home plate umpire Laz Diaz that put the team down early. Detwiler remained mum, smiling humorously when asked about the day's strike zone after the game, but he did talk about what the offense had done to help him out. "It shows what kind of team we have this year," the 26-year-old lefty told reporters, "We never quit. We didn't even quit that last inning when we were down three. We got back out there, got the first two guys on base and it just didn't happen. But them coming back from a five-run deficit just shows you what kind of team we have."
It's the kind of support today's starter Jordan Zimmermann can only dream about...
It's early in the season, yes, two starters (Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez) have made their third starts and now Zimmermann pitches tonight before Edwin Jackson and Detwiler get their third turns in the rotation against the Astros and the Marlins, respectively, in the final game of Houston's four-game series in D.C. and the first of three with Miami in the first meeting of 2012 with the Nats' divisional rivals, but thus far this season, just as it was last year, Jordan Zimmermann's received the least run support of any of the Nationals' starters.
The Nats' pitchers have taken the league by storm with the league's best team ERA among starters (1.69), the second-most innings pitched (74.2 to the A's 75.1 IP) and the most K's (70, 8.44 K/9) 12 games into season. Jordan Zimmerman's contributed 14.0 innings of work to the cause so far in 2012, allowing three runs, two earned, and two walks, while recording seven K's and posting a 1.29 ERA and a 2.33 FIP in two starts. While on the mound, he's received 0.7 RS/IP according to BB-Reference, to Strasburg's 1.5, Gio's 2.8, Detwiler's 4.0 and E-Jax's 4.8. League average is 3.9 RS/IP.
The Nationals have scored 2.1 RS/GS in Zimmermann's starts this year to 3.7 for Gio and E-Jax, 4.2 for Strasburg and 5.0 for Detwiler. Last season Zimmermann received 3.2 RS/GS, a run lower than league-average (4.2 RS/GS) and the lowest support per start amongst any of the Nats' regular starters. Amongst Nationals' starters Zimmermann also got the lowest run support in innings he was on the mound (2.6 RS/IP). Zimmermann's 3.2 RS/GS of support was the fifth-lowest total amongst NL starters, and his 2.6 RS/IP of support were the second-lowest, ahead of only the Padres' Dustin Moseley. The Nats' '07 2nd Round pick simply isn't getting the support of the Nationals' offense.
Cubs' right-hander Jeff Samardzija shut the Nats' bats down during the first start of the year in Chicago. The Reds' Bronson Arroyo and Zimmermann dueled in the last outing for the Nats' no.3, with Cincinnati's right-hander throwing 7.1 scoreless in which he gave up just one hit before being lifted for reliever Bill Bray, who immediately surrendered a game-tying home run by the Nats' Xavier Nady that got Zimmermann off the hook. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters he was glad to see the offense provide enough to at least spare Zimmermann the loss. "I was tickled to death that we got him off the hook," the Nats' 69-year-old manager said, "He pitched another great ballgame, and it would have been tragic for him to lose that ballgame."
Maybe tonight against the Astros the Nats can not only get Zimmermann off the hook, but provide enough support that the right-hander can actually claim his first curly-W of the year. Either that or Zimmermann needs to hit the cage for more work on his hitting so he can do it himself.