On Nationals' RHP Jordan Zimmermann's slider and Pirates' Pedro Alvarez's 2-run HR

Justin K. Aller

Jordan Zimmermann's slider has not been sharp so far this season and it's been hit hard, but it was a 1-0 change up in the zone to Pittsburgh Pirates' third baseman Pedro Alvarez that really hurt the Washington Nationals' starter in last night's 4-3 loss.

Jordan Zimmermann threw his slider 578 times in 2011. Opposing hitters put up a .229 AVG on the year when they barreled up the pitch that season. In 2012, the Washington Nationals' '07 2nd Round pick threw 728 sliders total, and the opposition posted a .251 AVG on the pitch. Last season, hitters managed just a .165 AVG on Zimmermann's slider, though he did surrender a career-high seven home runs on the pitch. While he's yet to give up a home run on a slider so far this season, opposing hitters have a .302 AVG when they hit the just-turned-28-year-old right-hander's slider.

"When [the slider is] hard it's pretty flat and doesn't do much so I've got to get it down a few miles an hour..." -Jordan Zimmermann to MASN's Dan Kolko on working on his slider

In an interview with MASN's Dan Kolko before last night's start in PNC Park, Zimmermann admitted his slider is still not quite there this season and talked about how he goes about working on it in-between outings.

"Playing catch every day," Zimmermann said, "and throwing it when I'm playing catch and then obviously in the bullpen and throw it quite a bit and try to get a good feel for it. But it's been a little hard and when it's hard it's pretty flat and doesn't do much so I've got to get it down a few miles an hour and it's going to break a little more."

According to Fangraphs.com, Zimmermann has been throwing an 86.5 mph slider (average velocity) so far this season, up from 85.9 in 2013, 86.4 mph in 2011-12 and 85.4 mph in 2011.

"He's using his curveball a lot more probably because he doesn't have that feel," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after Zimmermann's start last night in PNC Park.

"He's been able throw his breaking balls for strikes, it's just the slider hasn't quite been there yet." - Matt Williams on Jordan Zimmermann's slider

"We talked about that earlier. It's just he doesn't have the real feel for the slider."

In the first inning last night, Zimmermann got two groundouts with his slider, throwing it in a 2-2 count to Pirates' right fielder Josh Harrison, who grounded out to third, and in a 1-0 count to Andrew McCutchen, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Zimmermann got another groundout with his slider in the second, but there was a runner on third who scored when Starling Marte rolled over the 0-1 offering and sent a grounder to short.

With a runner on third, Zimmermann bounced a 1-1 slider outside that got away from Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos and allowed the Pirates' second run of the inning to score.

"That was the one that went to the backstop," Williams said. "But his curveball has been good. He's been able to throw that one for strikes."

While a wild pitch on a slider cost Zimmermann a run, the two hardest-hit offerings of the night were a fastball to Pirates' catcher Russell Martin earlier that inning that was lined to left for a double that set the home team up with runners on second and third and no one out and a 1-0 change he left up in the zone for Pedro Alvarez in the fourth, that ended up in the sculpted bushes beyond the center field wall that spell out "PIRATES."


That two-run blast by the Pirates' slugging but struggling third baseman ended up being the game-winner.

"Tonight he got hurt on a fastball for a double and then the changeup for a homer," Williams said. "He's been able throw his breaking balls for strikes, it's just the slider hasn't quite been there yet."

Williams said after the game that overall, in spite of a few mistakes, the outing was a strong one for Zimmermann.

"He had second and third early," Williams explained. "He got the ground ball to make it two outs and then one went to the backstop. He pulled a slider and then he hung a changeup to Alvarez for the four runs. So it's good hitting on his part on a ball that was kind of up in the strike zone. Other than that, those two swings really were the only difference."

The Nationals managed to score three runs to make it close, but the home run by Alvarez ended up being the difference. Zimmermann took the loss and the Nats fell to 24-24 on the season.

On the year, Zimmermann's now (3-2) on the year, with a 3.95 ERA, a 3.35 FIP, 12 walks (1.87 BB/9) and 47 Ks (7.74 K/9) in 54 2/3 IP.

SB Nation Featured Video
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Federal Baseball

You must be a member of Federal Baseball to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Federal Baseball. You should read them.

Join Federal Baseball

You must be a member of Federal Baseball to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Federal Baseball. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker