Zimmermann ready for next challenge with Syracuse

Right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann has made his way back to the Syracuse Chiefs as he gets ever closer to returning to the Nationals following Tommy John surgery last August.

Zimmermann expects to start Thursday or Friday for the Chiefs and work the standard five innings or 80 pitch limit he has been on for the last three starts.

"I am pretty excited to be back with Syracuse. I didn't know how long I was going to stay in Harrisburg so it was good to find out I was going to Triple-A.

"It could be two or three starts here, however long it takes. I don't know. I will just keep doing my work."

Zimmermann had a rough outing two starts ago, allowing six earned runs and two homers. I asked him what happened in Hagerstown.

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"I don't know. They were crushing everything I threw. They were free swingers. (Scott) Olsen told me he had the same problem in Hagerstown. The hitters know you have control around the plate.

"One of the curve balls turned into an opposite field homer. That never happens. There were three errors, but I am not going to blame the outing on that. My changeup was good again. The homer to center field was a hard hit ball, but a lot of the hits were off the end of the bat and just out of reach."

Zimmermann then turned it around in his first start for Harrisburg against Portland Saturday.

"I felt pretty good. I kept the ball down for the most part. There were a lot of deep counts. I walked the first guy in the game and I think the batter that led off the third inning. It was a battle all day. They were fouling off a lot of pitches. My pitch count got high so they pulled me out."

"All in all, I need to put guys away faster."

Zimmermann has spent a good amount of time during rehab working on his changeup.

"My changeup is coming along well. I need to just keep throwing it. I am monkeying with it. I am moving my fingers around on the ball a little to get it to slow down even more."

Jordan ran down his other pitches, which are coming along nicely. He is still hitting 92 to 94 miles per hour on his fastball.

"My fastball has been great the whole time. It feels good. My curve was a lot better in Harrisburg. My slider is getting better. I left a few of them up on my last outing so I need to stay on it."

Zimmermann says his arm is bouncing back very well between starts.

"It is just the normal soreness, as I told you before, my arm comes back way better than it did (prior to surgery). I feel good enough to start on my bullpen day."

Jordan told me to start the offseason he might go down to the instructional league in Florida for a couple of games to get his innings up before they shut him down.

But Zimmermann is excited for the possibility of getting the call back to the Nats soon. If his minor league starts continue to go well, he could have at least the final month with Washington before heading to Florida.

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