Zimmermann’s in-game adjustments big reason for fast start

Saturday’s loss at San Diego was tough all around for the Nationals.

Any time a team falls 2-1, there are several moments in the game they would love to rewind and try again. But baseball can be a cruel game, and just like any sport, the opportunity was there.

Starter Jordan Zimmermann was blaming himself afterward. One for a home run ball early and the other for his bad throw to check a runner hanging off of first base.

But the Nationals would not have been in a tie ball game in the eighth inning if it wasn’t for Zimmermann. He worked with veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki to work through the Padres lineup and they sensed San Diego was impatient early in the counts.

“That is perfect for me,” Zimmermann said on MASN’s ‘Nats Xtra’ of San Diego’s strategy. “I am going to throw strikes and get ahead. I noticed the first couple of innings they were bouncing on my first pitch fastball so I mixed up some off speed and I got them to roll over. I had like a five or six pitch inning mixed in there. It is going to help the pitch count.”

And it did. Zimmermann tossed a season-low 85 pitches and yet he got through eight innings allowing just one earned run. He didn’t walk a hitter, and he struck out six. His 7-2 record is still the best on the team and his seven wins are still tops in the National League. Only Matt Harvey has a better WHIP (0.72 to 0.87). Zimmermann continues to deal.

If the offense had been able to muster anything, if gambles had paid off, we would be talking about Zimmermann and his eighth win in 10 decisions before May 20.

But maybe it is even more of why Zimmermann is having such a great season in that he has seven wins at this juncture, especially with the offense sputtering at times to get rolling.

In five of his nine decisions, the Nationals have scored three runs or less. In those five games, including last night, Zimmermann has surrendered a total of three earned runs.

In Saturday’s loss to San Diego and his April 21 setback at the New York Mets, Zimmermann allowed four runs total, and his offense scored a grand total of one run.

One errant throw by Zimmermann cannot mask what a great start of the season it has been for the soft spoken Wisconsin hurler.

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