Jordan Zimmermann told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore after his rough outing against St. Louis this past Saturday that the problem wasn't fatigue but rather too much rest which had him overthrowing his fastball and slider and lacking the control he usually has with each pitch. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson suspected the same when he spoke to reporters. "Sometimes when he has that extra day's rest he's too strong," the manager said, "... kinda flies open, jumps at the hitter. You keep thinking he's going to make some adjustments and start getting it down."
Zimmermann didn't ever get it down against the Cardinals and he was out early, having allowed eight hits and eight runs, all earned, in just 3.2 IP.
"He was flying a little bit open and he couldn't get it down," Johnson explained, "Even his sliders were up. I felt like he was going to make some adjustments [and he] never could make any adjustments." Two of the eight hits the Nats' right-hander allowed Saturday were home runs, matching the total he gave up in 26.2 innings in August. In July, while Zimmermann was pitching his way to MLB's NL Pitcher of the Month award, the Nationals' '07 2nd Round pick allowed just one home run in 37.0 IP.
As for the extra day of rest affecting Zimmermann, he told the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore that he's simply more comfortable throwing on regular rest. "'Five days is perfect,'" Zimmermann said, "'Six, you got the extra day of rest, you feel that much stronger and loose and everything else.'"
In five July starts when he was on regular rest, the right-hander allowed one run or less and five hits or less in each outing, throwing six scoreless in two games and giving up just one run in each of the other three. In the one July start Zimmermann had five days rest like he did last time out, he gave up seven hits and two runs, one earned while throwing 99 pitches in 6.0 IP against San Francisco.
In August/September, as he approached the most innings he has pitched as a pro, he's had two starts on regular rest. In those starts he gave up just three hits in 6.0 scoreless against Houston and eight hits and two earned runs in 5.2 IP in another outing against the Giants. On an extra day's rest, Zimmermann has given up seven hits and five runs (four earned) in 5.0 IP; eight hits and four runs (all earned) in 5.0 again; five hits and three runs in 5.0 IP and then the eight hits and eight runs in 3.2 IP the last time out. [ed. note - 'There's isn't as notable a difference over the first few months of the season."]
Neither Zimmermann or his manager thought the issue was the shoulder which reportedly bothered the right-hander recently when he was getting loose and led to him taking anti-inflammatory medication. The Nationals juggled the rotation around to accomodate the right-hander, leading to some of the extra rest between starts. Zimmermann said that he's fine now, however. "I felt the way I normally feel," the '07 2nd Round pick told CSNWashington.com's Kelli Johnson after Saturday's start, dismissing the idea that it was any lingering issue with his shoulder. "He's strong," Johnson told reporters after the game, "But it was just one of those days." Zimmermann will be pitching on regular rest tonight when he takes on the Chicago Cubs, against whom he's (0-3) in four career starts with 4 BBs (1.44 BB/9), 24 Ks (8.64 K/9), a 4.68 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and .290 BAA in 25.0 IP.