Jordan Zimmermann was dominant last time out in his home state of Milwaukee, holding the Brewers to a run on five hits in 6.0 IP over which he walked one, K'd six and threw 93 pitches, 69 of them strikes. "Zim was Zim," Davey Johnson said after the game, "He struggled a little bit in the fourth inning, but picked up the pace and the sixth, just overpowered them, he breezed through the sixth." Aramis Ramirez had doubled on a full-count pitch in the first at bat of the Brewers' fourth and then scored the Brewers' only run of the game when Rickie Weeks singled him in to break up Zimmermann's shutout bid. Zimmermann walked the next batter, catcher Martin Maldonado, but got a double play grounder to end the fourth and retired the next six batters to end his 21st start of 2012.
The start left Zimmermann with an (8-6) record, a 2.28 ERA (now MLB's lowest), a 3.42 FIP, 24 walks (1.61 BB/9) and 96 K's (6.43 K/9) in 134.1 IP. Before the game, however, the Nationals' manager had told Nats' radio announcer Dave Jageler that his starter had been dealing with some shoulder issues recently that might determine how long he left him out on the mound. "He's had a little bit of inflammation in his shoulder, there's no secret," the Nats' skipper admitted, "And the only problem is he has a little problem getting loose. Any time that comes up, he's taking medication and stuff, but it's a concern that I'm not going to let him throw a whole lot if pitches if I can help it."
"He's had a little trouble warming up," Davey Johnson explained to reporters after the game, elaborating on his comments and the shoulder issue Zimmermann was experiencing, "So we were a little concerned about that, that's what I was telling you about I was holding his pitches down. He's fine, but it concerns me any time when they have a little bit of trouble getting loose."
The issue warming up had been bothering the Nats' '07 2nd Round pick for two or three starts, but just when he started to warm-up in the bullpen. After the first ten pitches he threw, "He feels great," Davey Johnson said, "But it's my job and [Pitching Coach Steve] McCatty's... every little thing, any little problem, and so, even though he was getting stronger it looked like, I said, 'That's it.'"
Earlier this week, the Nats' skipper announced that he'd decided to push Zimmermann's 22nd start of 2012 back a few days to give him extra time to rest the shoulder. Instead of starting Friday night's game against Miami, the right-hander, who'd been taking anti-inflammatory medication, would go Saturday. "'This just gives Zim an extra day,'" Johnson told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, "'It's not a big deal because he's feeling good. A lot better than he has been. He's been pitching lights out, so, that's good.'"
Before last night's game, Davey Johnson reported, as the Washington Post's James Wagner wrote, that Zimmermann felt fine after throwing between starts on Thursday.
Between his 21st and 22nd starts, of course, Zimmermann was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for the month of July after he'd gone (4-0) in six starts, posting a 0.97 ERA, 2.08 FIP, four walks (0.97 BB/9) and 31 K's (7.54 K/9) in 37.0 IP in which he allowed 27 hits, five runs, four earned and one home run. He'll make his first start in August tonight in Nats Park. Davey Johnson, who assured everyone when first discussing Zimmermann's shoulder issues that it was, "'... something every pitcher goes through,'" told reporters yesterday that Zimmermann has responded well to the anti-inflammatory medication.
As MLB.com's Quinn Roberts wrote Friday, Johnson said, "'I talked to him, and he said he felt great. He said it feels like he's throwing through a brick wall, so that's good news. He should be good to go.'" Zimmermann will face the Marlins for the third time this year. The right-hander's (1-1) in the previous two outings against the Fish this season, with a 3.00 ERA, one walk and 10 K's in 12.0 innings, and he's 5-0 in his last seven starts going back to a June 22nd loss to the Orioles with the Nationals (6-1) with him on the hill. Start 22 of 2012 takes place at 7:05 pm EDT in D.C.