Zimmermann sees paved road back to Nats

Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann has made very good progress in three rehab starts for the Potomac Nationals as he embarks on another start tonight in Woodbridge.

Zimmermann is expected to pitch four innings with a pitch count capped at 65.

He has been outstanding in his control and velocity. His fastball has been consistently in the mid-90s (once hitting 96 mph in hot and muggy Frederick).

He has had great success in refining the changeup and getting its speed down to 84-86 mph. Jordan told me last week that that has been a focus for him and pitching coach Paul Menhart. Before the change was coming in a little hot and they wanted to pull back on it. The numbers show that it's working with nine strikeouts in the last eight innings on the mound.

The tentative plan is for Zimmermann to pitch tonight and then on July 24 for Hagerstown. With Potomac and Harrisburg on the road, Hagerstown was a good choice so he can stay close to D.C.

Scott Olsen (0-0, 2.25) pitched for the Suns in a rehab assignment on Saturday with excellent results (4.0 IP, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts).

It makes sense with Stephen Strasburg getting close to an innings limit that we may see Zimmermann, Olsen and/or Ross Detwiler in August.

Even Matt Chico, who I'll speak to later today, has been on a roll with back-to-back starts (vs. Pawtucket) in which he allowed no runs. Chico (4-3, 3.00) could get a chance to after holding his own with the Nats back in May.

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