Tag Archives: Jordan Zimmermann

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2014 Washington Nationals: Denouement

Last month, the Washington Nationals of 2014 completed the 4th best season in DC baseball history, but a second division title — they ran away with the National League East still yielded a first round exit. In the NLDS, they faced the San Francisco Giants, winners of the play-in game and lowest seeded team in NL, but eventual world champions. Four games later, the Nats were eliminated, despite strong pitching. Some strange mental errors and an opportunistic Giants squad overtook the Nats for two reasons:

The Nats bats with four days off did not hit. Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper, the two youngest hitters on the team, were able to handle being pitched to low and a way. The rest of the lineup was largely helpless and the manager of the Nats, Matt Williams made no adjustments to the lineup, leaving Harper at 6th throughout the whole series. Questions about that decision-making as well as hitting coach Rick Shu are there to be asked.

Williams decision making has been fairly scrutinized. I don’t mind that he pulled Jordan Zimmermann in Game 2 with two outs in the ninth after yielding a walk. Facing Buster Posey for a fourth time with a tired arm wasn’t ideal. It just didn’t work out that Drew Storen did not get it done.

Game 4 proved to be much more baffling as Williams inserted Aaron Barrett into the 7th inning of an elimination game on the road instead of Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. Stephen Strasburg, who had a decent Game 1 start, was also available, but my view is the best relievers available were the best choice. Williams never called for them and the Nats fell.

Was Williams management of the NLDS a fireable offense? Probably not, but I’m not saying I’d be disappointed; I could get used to spelling “Weird Wuss” with curly Ws, I think. His peers voted him NL Manager of the Year, perhaps in the way that I would suggest Hunter Strickland needs a larger stage, like closer on an NL East team. The Nats were not ready for playoff baseball, likely in part due to their success in the last month of season where the dominated weak NL East teams in the New York Mets and Miami Marlins. That schedule can’t be helped – it’s just the way it worked out. However, sticking to a lineup that wasn’t producing and sticking to bullpen roles rather than game situations is hardly unique to Williams.

Or maybe it was the red jerseys.

Now, let’s review the roster:

THE LINEUP

Denard Span‘s NLDS was a microcosm of the Nats year — when he hit, they tended to win. When he didn’t, they lost. 2014 was his most productive season, setting a modern DC hits record. Unfortunately, he only hit in game 3.

Anthony Rendon put up superstar numbers, led the NL in runs and played third base well. He also hit in the NLDS, going 7 for 20.

Adam LaRoche had a typical streaky season, but still played 140 games, had a .362 OBP, hit 26 homers and drove in 92 runs. He also hit a walk-off against the Arizona Diamonbacks in extra innings. He is done in D.C. as there will be no spot for him with Ryan Zimmerman headed to 1st.

Jayson Werth had another strong season at the plate (.292/.394/.455), but was useless in the NLDS. Really useless. His defense is starting to slip, so perhaps a move to left is in order. He also drives too fast.

Bryce Harper garnered more controversy than he deserved and miss significant chunks of time, but after he returned he was pretty much the same outstanding player he’s been his whole career. He also hit three homers in the NLDS. When he’s healthy he’s awesome.

Ryan Zimmerman
couldn’t stay healthy, first injuring his thumb and then tearing his hamstring. He’s done playing third base on a regular basis due to his arthritic shoulder and will probably move to first next season. He’s still a great hitter and not playing third may keep him in the lineup, though he got injured on the basepaths. He continues to be a consummate professional.

Ian Desmond strikes out a ton and tends to make more errors than he should, especially early in the season. He’s in a contract year and with no viable second baseman on the roster, he’ll probably be resigned and continue to put up 20-20 numbers for a few more seasons, but strike out a ton.

Wilson Ramos stared the season batting cleanup, couldn’t make it out of the first game without a trip the DL. He only played 88 games and runs very slowly. Aside from the WILLLLLL-SSSSSSON chant, a forgettable year in several respects. It’s still worth mentioning that the Nats traded Matt Capps for him.

Asdrubal Cabrera was solid at second base for the most part after being acquired from Cleveland for the stretch run and even had a decent NLDS compared to other Nats hitters (ejection notwithstanding) but is probably on his way out. A decent acquisition though, if only to keep Danny Espinosa out of the lineup.

THE ROTATION

Stephen Strasburg tried to hard to make a slider work, but in an up and down season still tied for the NL lead in strikeouts, pitched 30 more innings and walked fewer. He gave up more hits, but locked in during the stretch. His postseason debut was okay, but poor defense helped lead to an early departure.

Doug Fister
got traded for Robbie Ray and hero to fans of a certain age Steve Lombardozi. Fister went 16-6 in 25 starts with only 24 walks and no stolen bases. He also won Game 3. Good trade Mike Rizzo.

Jordan Zimmermann had a very strong 2014, earning an All-Star bid, being arguably the Nats best pitcher and throwing the first no-hitter in D.C. since the Hoover administration. He had an unflappable demeanor and came within one out of a complete game shutout in Game 2, but he walked Joe Panik when umpire ___ squeezed the zone a bit and got lifted. So close…2015 will likely be his final year in D.C. as he is a free agent after the season and indications are he’s ready for a change of scenary.

Gio Gonzalez can be an outstanding pitcher when he’s trusting his curve ball. When he isn’t, he runs into trouble. Always known for a high pitch count, Gonzalez has had trouble in three starts over two postseasons and is prone to brutal fielding lapses. He’s signed the longest of anyone in the rotation.

Tanner Roark was the player the Nats got for the Cristain Guzman rental. If he never pitches another game, it was robbery. Thirty-one starts, 2.85 ERA, 15 wins. That’s after going 7-1 in 2013.

THE BULLPEN

Tyler Clippard, while pigeon-holed into the 8th inning with a lead spot, continued to be a reliable, durable reliever. He did not fare well when sent into close, but overall remained the most consistent fireman on the team AND WHY WOULDN’T YOU USE HIM IN AN ELIMINATION GAME, MATT WILLIAMS?

Drew Storen had a bounceback regular season that had him return to closing late, but that is overshadowed by his giving up the tying run in Game 1 and even giving up a run in Game 3. Seemingly, he’s next year’s closer though Clippard should get a shot.

Rafael Soriano had a strong first half as closer, but fell off the table and almost off the roster in the playoffs. He’s not coming back.

Aaron Barret – Joe West broke him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. He shouldn’t have been brought in late in an elimination game.

Jerry Blevins was great against lefties. And only lefties. Why do I know this and #9 doesn’t?

Craig Stammen had some big long relief appearances and continiued to be solid.

Ross Detwiler did not make the playoff roster and did not have the faith of the management. It’s a far cry from 2012 when he made the best start of the playoffs that year. He’s headed out of town.

There is some discussion that next year will be a last shot with the current core as Zimmermann and Desmond are in the final years of their contracts. I expect Desmond will be signed and Zimmermann will follow the money to a city not too far from a rural area. Span’s option has got to be picked up because he provides value on the field or as a trade piece. Who plays second base is undetermined. Werth is showing his age in right and will be hard pressed to match those numbers again. Maybe switch him and Harper in the outfield. An extension for Fister wouldn’t upset me and I’m okay with dangling Gio out to other teams. THe NL East should be more challenging as the Marlins and Mets are showing signs of ascendency. The Phillies are not a factor and the Braves stayed in it longer than they really should have in 2014. More divisional competition may help the Nats out and keep them sharp too.

It’s been over two weeks since the season ended and I still miss it. We’ve got the hot stove, winter meetings and of course the court figths with the Baltimore Orioles ahead, but that’s just not the same being able to turn on Charlie & Dave and listen to a game 5 nights a week.

It’s 152 days until Opening Day.

HIGHLIGHTS

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Game 2: NATS 1 SF Giants 2

The Washington Nationals 18-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night has their season on the brink. Win the next game or go home. In the best case scenario, that happens at least three times.

The Nats were one out away from a 1-0 victory, but Jordan Zimmermann walked Joe Panik on some questionable balls. Matt Williams replaced Zimmermann with closer Drew Storen. It wasn’t a bad decision, it just did not work. Storen gave up two hits, a single to Buster Posey and a double to Pablo Sandoval, not exactly scrubs Posey was thrown out trying to score, setting up the longest game in MLB postseason history. Not wanting a tired Zimmermann to face Posey a fourth time is a reasonable position.

It became fashionable to dump on Nats fans for leaving their seats during the 6:23 long game. Some surely went home, while others went to the concourse. Apparently, in the eyes of some out-of-market baseball scribes, this was a moral failing. The temperatures dropped at least 20 degrees since the beginning of the game and the wind picked up. By 10:00 it was quite cold, even more so if you were in the exposed upper deck dealing with the heavy winds.

The game was literally longer than a flight from San Francisco to D.C.:

Maybe the older writers just miss their annual treks to rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal. I hear it isn’t what it was though.

The Nats primary problem, having given up 5 runs (4 earned) over 27 innings pretty clear — they aren’t hitting. Bryce Harper had two hits in game 1. Anthony Redon had 5 hits in game 2. That’s about it. Nothing from the leadoff hitter Denard Span and little from either Jayson Werth or Adam LaRoche. When you don’t get baserunners, the ump show that grants the opposition more strikes on pitches out of the zone is magnified. Not hitting is the problem. That’s why the Nats are on the brink of elimination.

Game 3 is at 5:07 p.m. Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner on MLB Network as well 106.7 FM/1500 AM and MLB Audio.

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jordan-zimmermann-nohitter

Jordan Zimmermann throws first DC no-hitter since 1931 in Nats final regular season game

Monday is the 10th anniversary of the announcement that baseball was returning to D.C. What happened on Sunday morning might be one of top three highlights of that decade — Jordan Zimmermann pitching a no-hitter for the Washington Nationals:

103 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 runner advanced to first on a wild-pitch strike three and then got promptly picked off. Here is the final out, a diving catch by defensive replacement, LF Steven Souza, Jr., as told by four different broadcasters:

That’s a really good call by Bob Carpenter. It was thrilling to watch.

Zimmermann recorded just the third 9-inning no-hitter in D.C. history. Other no hitters (as seen on Washington D.C. Baseball History Facebook group):

Walter Johnson – July 1, 1920 / 9 innings
Walter Johnson – August 25, 1924 / 7 innings, game was called due to rain.
Bobby Burke – August 8, 1931 / 9 innings
Jordan Zimmermann – September 28, 2014 / 9 innings

Ian Desmond hit a second inning homer and that was all Zimmermann needed for run support.

A great game deserves a great gamer:

Thomas Boswell finally saw a no-hitter:

The only two moments that compare to this — Ryan Zimmerman’s Nationals Park Opening Night Walkoff in 2008 and Jayson Werth’s Game 4 walkoff in 2012.

So far.

This was an exclamation point to a 96-win season with home field advantage in the NL playoffs. Zimmermann’s performance gives Nats fans a roaring crescendo to the regular season. The tension of the playoffs can wait for several days as it will surely happen, particularly when the opponent is determined by the NL Wild Card play-in game.

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Jordan Zimmerman pitches another Friday night gem, but Nats don’t gain any ground


Washington Nationals Jordan Zimmerman struck out nine, allowed only one walk and two hits in a complete game shutout. He seems to like pitching on Friday nights at Nationals Park. That was win #19 for the NL leader. For the Nats, it was win #83, but they remain five games back of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates for the play-in game.

The Nats offense produced 8 runs – 7 in the sixth when 11 men batted.

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Will we still be happy that the All-Star Break is over during/after Nats game tonight?

A co-worker asked me this morning about the Washington Nationals. He’s a casual fan going to the Sunday game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom he expected to be a better opponent. I suggested that the Dodgers were better than their record now that Yasiel Puig was on the team. I also suggested that the Nats were less than the sum of their parts thus far this season. The lineup, incomplete for so long, is finally healthy so perhaps the players can start hitting around their statistical norms. Even Bryce Harper is slumping a little bit, but who knows, maybe finishing 2nd in the Home Run Derby will get him going. The lack of situational hitting is the biggest problem, a relapse to the 2005-2011 Nats that seemed to lead the NL in runners left on base annually. Well, maybe not in 2008 and 2009.

We are also really overdue for a Ryan Zimmerman walk-off.

On the pitching front, Stephen Strasburg is having an “off year” while sporting an ERA of 2.99. Gio Gonzalez has settled into a groove after a mediocre start while Jordan Zimmermann is an All-Star (and rural American!) who hasn’t been quite as good of late, but clearly the leader on the staff. The backend hasn’t been good with Ross Detwiler on the DL twice and having trouble getting through the order a third time. Dan Haren, on the other hand, has had trouble getting through the order once, though has shown signs of improvement.

The Nats are six games back of the Atlanta Braves and catching them over the next 67 games is certainly possible, some even say probable. But it probably won’t happen all at once if it does — read Nats Pennant Push for more as you watch games while breathing into a paper bab. and September scheduling favors the Braves.

They can win the NL East, but it will likely be a slog. I thought that some of the preseason predictions of greater than 98 wins was wishful thinking, but 48-47 at the break was not something I anticipated. On Opening Day, I predicted 94 wins and I think that’s optimistic at this point.

Of course, if the Nats just wear their red caps and the Braves don’t wear their alternate jerseys, it’ll all work out!

MSM PREVIEWS

Washington Nationals have their work cut out for themThe Post

Washington Nationals storylines to watch in second halfThe Wash. Times

2nd half storylinesCSN Washington

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS

They found a few!

It starts up again at 7:05 tonight — 11 game homestand. Time to get going.

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Zimmermann, Nats beat Dodgers 6-2; Harper runs into a wall and is listed as day-to-day, but aren’t we all?

After another brutal game 7 loss for the Washington Capitals (more on that later) what D.C. fans absolutely did not need was Washington Nationals OF Bryce Harper running into a wall.

That’s from SB Nation: Bryce Harper injury: Nationals outfielder hurt after colliding with wall.

Probably not a good idea in a 6-0 game to go for the play and not settle for playing the ball off the carom.

Harper is listed as day-to-day, but aren’t we all?

I’m sure The Post will have a side-by-side breakdown comparing Harper running into a wall with Babe Ruth running into a wall at Griffith Stadium (Ghosts of DC).

Ruth knocked out (LOC)

Bryce Harper receives 11 stitches, no concussion after nasty collision with Dodgers Stadium fence [UPDATED] – Nationals Journal, The Post

Lots of photos on Nats Enquirer: Bryce Harper runs into Dodger Stadium wall, leaves game shaken up and bleeding…

Get well, Bryce, LOVE the stirrups!

The good news is the Nats beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-2 after that awful series with the Chicago Cubs. Jordan Zimmermann is the first MLB 7 game winner of 2013.

Ryan Zimmerman drove 3 runs.

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Nats: Another strong Zimmermann start brings first D.C. win over Tigers since 1971

Jordan Zimmermann and his awful post-game shirt (Nats Enquirer) is the first National League 6-game winner of 2013. From The PostNationals vs. Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann, Bryce Harper lead way to another win:

The Nationals’ starting rotation includes three all-stars and a former sixth overall pick. The best of them, though, is the 26-year-old Wisconsin native with more pitches than facial expressions, a fact further established Wednesday night during the Nationals’ 3-1 victory over the fearsome Detroit Tigers. Zimmermann added seven more innings of dominance to his 2013 ledger, the one that marks him not only as the Nationals’ ace, but also one of the very best pitchers in baseball.

The Nats beat Anabel Sanchez for the first time in 20 tries.

Zimmermann’s 20 inning scoreless streak was broken in the third when Torii Hunter scored from second (he had a two-out double) on a Miguel Cabrera single.

Adam LaRoche scored the winning run on a throwing error by Hunter.

Bryce Harper homered, his tenth:

Another streak was broken — a nearly 42 year losing streak to the Tigers. The last time a D.C. team beat the Tigers in the regular season was August 3, 1971 (Boxscore from baseball-reference.com). Denny McLain pitched 8 innings for the Senators against his former team in a 4-2 win in Tiger Stadium. McClain improved his record to 6-15. Joe Niekro (3-5) and Casey Cox earned the save (5) for Washington. Frank Howard hit his 20th homer.

The “Curse of Denny McLain,” which I just made up, is over!

Coincidentally, the Detroit Lions have never won in Washington (or Landover) in over 75 years of playing the Redskins. That was for you J.J.

ALSO, did you see the Nats backed down from their stupid rain-out policy?

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Nats take Reds series, head to Atlanta

I’ll admit, I had grown skeptical of the 2013 Washington Nationals and I did not see the series victory over the Cincinnati Reds coming. Three wins in a row followed by a dud yesterday. The dominant pitching of the first two nights was quite refreshing, in particular Jordan Zimmermann’s outstanding complete game on Friday night. They took the regular season Reds series 4-3.

An opprutunity is in front of the Nats this week with four games against the Atlanta Braves, who stormed out of the gate this season. They’ve already had some fun with “Natitude” and are now pushing “Gattitude” (DC Sports Bog, The Post) for their young catcher, Evan Gattis. Divisions aren’t won in April though, but a bad series here makes the climb back harder for D.C.

One thing leftover from that difficult sweep a few weeks ago — I recall reading a post about the Braves broadcasters suggesting the Nats rise through the draft was not the “right way” because they built the team off of #1 overall picks through losing. The Nats couldn’t do things that way — MLB’s ownership tenure left the franchise so barren that they couldn’t build any other way.

BRYCE HARPER, YEAR ONE

Not a bad start to Bryce Harper’s career? The anniversary of his debut was this weekend. A documentary is on ESPN tomorrow (DC Sports Bog, The Post) night at 9 p.m. Also, D.C. sports world’s collide – Jess Atkinson, local product turned Washington Redskins kicker and then sports anchor, produced it. Too much too soon? Probably.

KIND OF BORING BOSWELL CHAT

Read it anyway.

ON THIS DAY IN 1886


The Washington Nationals debuted in the National League
D.C. Baseball History

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Nats: Is Jordan Zimmermann’s 1 hitter the best pitched game in D.C. since 1931?

Jordan Zimmermann just pitched a one-hitter for the Washington Nationals, perhaps the best start by a D.C. pitcher since the August 8, 1931 no-hitter by Bobby Burke of the Washington Senators. Zimmermann allowed one hit, one walk and an error. Burke walked five Boston Red Sox that day, so Zimmermann’s may have actually been a better game.

Zimmermann’s line:

    		        IP   H   R  ER	BB  SO	HR  ERA
Zimmermann(W, 4-1)	9.0  1	 0  0	1   4	0   2.00

Boxscore

This is the second night in a row the Nats held the visiting Cincinnati Reds to a single hit for the second night in a row. The last time that happened ALMOST 113 YEARS AGO!

That was the Superbas who last did this to the Reds. The Superbas!

If I recall correctly, there was one previous one-hitter complete game since baseball returned to the District in 2005, but I’m still looking for it.

The one run of the game was scored by Bryce Harper who tripled in the 4th and was knocked in by a Jayson Werth single. Homer Bailey pitched very well in the loss.

MORE DETAILS COURTESY OF FEDERAL BASEBALL

THE FRIDAY CURSE IS OVER!

GAMERS

Jordan Zimmermann and Nationals one-hit Reds for second night in a rowThe Post

Zimmermann the Nats’ latest 1-hit wonderCSN Washington

Jordan Zimmermann dominates Reds with one-hit shutoutThe Wash. Times

The Nats are now 12-11.

TOMORROW

Dan Haren on the mound for D.C., game on FOX.

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