5. Zimmermann's Turn: The Washington Nationals were 15-4 overall against the New York Mets in 2014, and Jordan Zimmermann dominated the Nats' NL East rivals as well, going (3-0) in four starts with the Nats 4-0 when he took the mound against NY. In 25 ⅓ IP against the Mets, the 28-year-old right-hander put up a 2.13 ERA with three walks (1.07 BB/9), 15 Ks (5.32 K/9) and a .263/.305/.313 line against.
Going into tonight's outing, Zimmermann was on an eight-game (regular season) win streak which dated back to last August 2nd and included two of his three 2014 wins over the Mets. Over that stretch, the Nationals were (11-0) in his outings with the '07 2nd Round pick posting a 1.81 ERA and a .205/.235/.289 line against with eight walks (0.96 BB/9) and 69 Ks (8.32 K/9) in 74 ⅔ IP.
His last regular season start in D.C. was, of course, Zimmermann's no-hitter against the Miami Marlins in Game 162 last September. Before today's game, Nats' skipper Matt Williams was asked what he thought of when he looked back on that start now and what he's learned about Zimmermann in a year-plus on the bench.
"It was the culmination to a fantastic season by the team," Williams said. "And, of course we all remember the [Steven Souza] catch. But just the way [Zimmermann] went about it. Aggressive like he always is. Threw strikes. We wanted to get him out of there after five innings. Didn't work out that way, and we're kind of happy it didn't. But, it was a warm afternoon and there were guys flying all around the field making plays for him."
In spite of all the trade talk and chatter about this potentially being Zimmermann's final season with the Nationals, Williams said he's impressed with how the pitcher has handled himself.
"He's even-keel. With all the speculation this winter and all the talk, of course, it doesn't affect him at all. He just goes and pitches when his turn is up. And from pitch one until pitch whatever-it-is, he's aggressive, he goes after hitters and throws the ball over the plate. So, he does a lot of things well. So for me, he's just unaffected in every aspect and goes out there and does his job."
Zimmermann took the mound after a 56-minute delay and completed a quick, 19-pitch, 1-2-3 first against the Mets.
Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares and Travis d'Arnaud hit back-to-back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the second, with d'Arnaud driving the Mets' first run of the game in, 2-1. Ryan Zimmerman made a charging, diving catch on a popped up bunt by Jacob deGrom in the next at bat, however, and after Wilmer Flores reached on a swinging bunt that Yunel Escobar pocketed, Zimmermann caught Curtis Granderson looking with a full-count fastball that left the bases loaded. 23-pitch frame, 42 total.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Zimmermann at 55 pitches. An 11-pitch fourth left him at 66. Zimmermann's 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth pushed him up to 76 overall, with ten straight Mets set down. David Wright took a healthy cut at an 0-2 two-seamer and came up empty, becoming the eleventh-straight batter set down by the Nats' right-hander, but Lucas Duda ended that streak with a one-out single to right with one down in the sixth. Michael Cuddyer grounded into a force for out no.2, and Daniel Murphy's pop to right ended a 15-pitch frame. 91 total.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 91 P, 63 S, 4/3 GO/FO.
4. deGrom's 2015 Debut: On the way to winning the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year award, 26-year-old New York Mets' right-hander Jacob deGrom made just one start against the NL East Champion Nationals, giving up seven hits, a walk and three runs in six innings of work on the mound in a 5-3 loss in an August 7th outing in Nationals Park.
In 22 starts overall, the 2010 9th Round pick was (9-6) with a 2.69 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 43 walks (2.76 BB/9) and 144 Ks (9.24 K/9) in 140 ⅓ IP over which he held opposing hitters to a paltry .228/.288/.326 line against.
Relying predominantly on a four-seam fastball that averaged 93.5 mph, and on which opposing hitters had a .181 AVG, deGrom mixed in a two-seamer (16.5%), slider (16.6%), change (12.2%) and curve (9.5%).
The Nationals only saw him once, but he impressed Nats' skipper Matt Williams.
"He throws strikes," Williams said before tonight's game. "He's got a really good fastball. And he's been able to throw his changeup and his slider behind in the count or for strikes when he needs to. And he had a great season last year. He's got confidence. He's got confidence in the stuff that he brings to the table. It doesn't get any easier from Bartolo [Colon], that's for sure. And he does a lot of things on the baseball field that help his team win. He pitches. He fields his position well, he's an ex-shortstop. He can hit. He can do a lot of things."
deGrom made a mistake in the bottom of the first inning tonight, however, grooving a 94 mph 1-1 fastball that Ryan Zimmerman absolutely crushed, sending a two-run home run out to left in Nats Park to put the Nationals up 2-0 after one.
The Nationals put two on with two out in the third, but Zimmerman K'd looking to end a 21-pitch frame that left deGrom at 57 pitches overall after three.
deGrom was up to 79 pitches when Bryce Harper went the other way with a 93 mph 1-1 fastball outside, singling to left with two down in the Nationals' fifth, but a grounder to first by Zimmerman ended a quick, eight-pitch frame that left the Mets' starter at 82 pitches after five.
Wilson Ramos doubled in the sixth, but was stranded at the end of a 10-pitch frame that left deGrom at 92 pitches, still trailing 2-1.
• Jacob deGrom's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 92 P, 64 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
3. Day 2 Lineup Same as Day 1: Matt Williams was asked before today's game what he likes about having Wilson Ramos bat fifth with Ian Desmond sixth as both were on Opening Day as well.
"I like the fact that [Ramos] has the ability to drive runs in," Williams explained. "Over the course of his career he's proven that. He's a good RBI guy, he's a good run-producer. So hopefully we get the opportunity tonight for him to be in those spots. We had a couple of opportunities in the first game for that to happen. And then Desi hitting behind him, it opens him up with his speed a little bit that if he gets on base toward the back of that lineup then he can use his speed if need be. So, of course, you have your full complement of guys it changes a little bit, but for right now it's what we're looking at."
Ramos and Desmond were a combined 0 for 7 in the season opener, though they were hardly the only hitters who struggled against Mets' starter Bartolo Colon.
Against Jacob deGrom tonight, it was Ryan Zimmerman who struck first with a solo blast to left field in the first.
Ramos connected for his first double of the season in the first at bat of the Nationals' sixth, lining an 0-1 fastball to right-center. 1 for 3. Ian Desmond went 0 for 3 against deGrom.
2. Turning Point(s): After Ryan Zimmerman put the Nationals up early with the two-run blast in the first, the Mets cut the lead in half in the top of the second with back-to-back-to-back one-out hits, but a diving play by Zimmerman on a popped up bunt by the opposing pitcher and a called strike three on Curtis Granderson that left the bases loaded kept the lead in tact.
1. The Wrap-Up: Craig Stammen took over for Zimmermann in the top of the seventh inning and retired the first two batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Wilmer Flores' groundout to short ended a scoreless 19-pitch frame.
The Nationals put two on with two out in the seventh in front of Ryan Zimmerman, but right-hander Rafael Montero threw an 0-2 fastball by the Nats' first baseman to keep it close at 2-1 after seven.
In the eighth, even with two lefties due up, Nats' skipper Matt Williams went to apparently new eighth-inning man Blake Treinen, who gave up a one-out single to right by David Wright, but snagged a liner back to the mound off Lucas Duda's bat and doubled Wright up off first. 1-3 DP. Still 2-1 Nats.
Drew Storen came on in the ninth looking for save no.1 of 2015 and... retired the Mets in order. Ballgame.
Nationals now 1-1