US Presswire photo
Jordan Zimmermann allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings during yesterday's win.
So let's give Zimmermann some credit here for his 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball. The right-hander was downright dominant early on, striking out four of the first seven Mets he faced. He didn't issue one walk, becoming the third Nationals starter in seven games this season to do that. And though he started to show signs of fading late, he was strong enough to throw 99 pitches (the most by any Nats starter so far this year and his most since his final start in 2009 before Tommy John surgery).
The fact Jim Riggleman let him return to the mound to start the sixth inning (even though he was only going to face two hitters no matter what) wasn't lost on Zimmermann. "It's a big confidence builder," he said. "He's got trust in me."
Riggleman, in turn, had glowing things to say about Zimmermann: "Very composed. Nothing seems to bother him. He just makes pitches. They've got a good lineup, and they put pressure on him. But he made the necessary pitches when he had to."
It's no secret how big this season is for Zimmermann. Fully healthy for the first time in 20 months, this is the season he's supposed to ascend to a front-line starter for the Nats. There's still some fine-tuning to be done, especially when it comes to keeping his pitch count down, but Zimmermann is well on his way. He had a very strong spring. And he's off to a strong start to the regular season, his ERA sitting at 3.18 after two outings.
"I'm trying to get better every time and soak in as much as I can every time out there," he said. "Every start's big for me. I just try to take a little bit out of every start."
Other thoughts on this Saturday morning in the Big Apple...
-- Tom Gorzelanny finally makes his 2011 debut tonight against the Mets. The left-hander hasn't pitched in a game in 15 days, and few would be surprised if he's a little rusty when he takes the mound at Citi Field. The Nationals need Gorzelanny to be an effective No. 5 starter, though, after trading away three minor-leaguers for him over the winter. We really didn't get to see a lot of him this spring. We'll start finding out more tonight.
-- The Mets also send a lefty to the mound in Chris Capuano, the first time the Nationals will be facing a southpaw starter this season. That means Jerry Hairston will likely start in center field over Rick Ankiel, which makes for an interesting lineup decision for Riggleman. Does he bat Hairston leadoff, or does he keep Ian Desmond there? And where does the other guy end up hitting? Seventh? Eighth? Might Riggleman put Hairston and Desmond 1 and 2, bumping everyone down a slot and perhaps giving Jayson Werth some RBI opportunities for a change out of the 3-hole? We shall see.
-- Ross Detwiler made his season debut for Class AAA Syracuse last night and turned in an impressive performance. Detwiler allowed one run on four hits over six innings, striking out eight while walking only one Buffalo Bison. I don't think Detwiler's suddenly in the mix for a spot in the Nationals' rotation after one start. But if he keeps this up, especially after the spring he had, the Nats are going to have to find room for him eventually.