Jordan Zimmermann's name has been in the news all season. Unfortunately, most of the time it's been in articles about Stephen Strasburg and how Zimmermann's rehab from Tommy John surgery in his first full-year back from the procedure in 2011 was used as a template for the team's plans with Strasburg this season. Zimmermann, the Nats' '07 2nd Round pick out of Wisconsin, made headlines on his own when he was named the NL's Pitcher of the Month following a month of July in which he was was (4-0) with a 0.97 ERA, 2.08 FIP, four walks (0.97 BB/9) and 31 K's (7.54 K/9) in six starts and 37.0 IP. In August, the 26-year-old right-hander was (1-2) in five starts with a 4.39 ERA, 3.47 FIP, eight walks (2.70 BB/9) and 23 Ks (7.76 K/9) in 26.2 IP. Zimmermann dealt with some shoulder inflammation, took anti-inflammatory medication, moved a start back at one point, but continued pitching.
Both the pitcher and manager have stressed that the right-hander's struggles have little to do with Zimmermann wearing down, reaching limits he's never met before in terms of total pitches and innings pitched or dealing with any injury lingering injury issues. After giving up six hits, three walks and two runs, both earned in 5.0 IP in which he threw 104 pitches against the NY Mets the last time out, for a second-straight start in which he allowed just two runs total following a disastrous eight-hit, eight-run start against St. Louis back on September 1st, Zimmermann is (1-0) with a 6.89 ERA, 4.63 FIP, five walks (2.87 BB/9) and 18 Ks (10.34 K/9) in three starts and 15.0 IP so far this month.
On the year, the fourth-year pro is (10-8) with a 3.01 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 37 walks (1.88 BB/9) and 137 Ks (6.98 K/9) in 29 starts and 176.2 IP. Zimmermann makes his 30th start this afternoon against the LA Dodgers in Nationals Park. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson has chalked his pitcher's late-season struggles up to the fact that he's been too strong a few times when he's gotten an extra day's rest and has been "amped" up, as the manager put it, for the sort of meaningful games he's pitching in for the first time as a pro. "You know, we're in a pennant race. Guys get a little more amped up," Johnson told reporters in NY, "It's about learning how to control those emotions, stay within yourself, and not fly open, not jump at the hitter. And this is all a part of the learning experience."
Asked if he was worried that Zimmermann hasn't had a real dominant outing in a while as the regular season schedule winds down, Johnson said clearly, "No, I"m not worried. He's still throwing the ball really good."
Zimmermann's pitching the 4:00 game (on an extra day's rest because of the rain) with John Lannan taking the mound in game two of the doubleheader in Nationals Park this afternoon.
• Here's the Nats' lineup for game one of today's doubleheader:
#Nationals Game 1 lineup vs. LAD - Werth 9, Harper 8, Zimmerman 5, LaRoche 3, Morse 7, Desmond 6, Espinosa 4, Suzuki 2, Zimmermann 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 19, 2012