Even if Zimmermann won’t admit it, teammates know reaching 20 wins is important

Winning pitcher Jordan Zimmermann may deny it, but his Nationals teammates certainly believe that he wants to get to 20 wins on the season, and they think he can get there.

Zimmermann tossed the second complete-game shutout of his career Friday night, allowing two hits, striking out nine and walking one an 8-0 victory over the Marlins, earning his 19th victory.

Center fielder Denard Span had a good look in on defense watching Zimmermann work and was glad he didn’t have to face him in the batter’s box.

“I was seeing a dominating pitcher tonight,” Span said. “His fastball was electric. His breaking ball, out of his hand, I was getting fooled, to be honest. It looked like a fastball and then it would slurve away. He was buckling me out there. He had everything going tonight, for sure.”

Zimmermann lost a no-hit bid in the sixth on a two-out single by Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano. Span said the Nats did not make a big deal of the possibility of a no-hitter, even when Zimmermann had struck out five of the first six batters he faced.

“Nobody was really thinking about it,” Span said. “Nobody said anything about him having a no-hitter. Obviously, we knew he had a no-hitter. Situation like that, we know that if a ball comes in the outfield, we can dive for it we are going to try to give our bodies up for it.”

Right fielder Jayson Werth said it was a dominant as Zimmermann had been since the playoffs last year against the Cardinals.

“It reminded me of that game four game, when he came out of the ‘pen last year,” Werth said. “Except he was starting (this time). It was like every inning he was lights out, he was electric. He can pitch like that. He is capable of being a shutdown starter like that. He pitched great.”

Second baseman Anthony Rendon said he could tell Zimmermann was focused in after a 1-2-3 first frame, in which he struck out Chris Coghlan and Giancarlo Stanton.

“After that first inning, when he struck out two out of three, I think, you could tell,” Rendon said. “He always goes after hitters. There was something different about him tonight.”

When told Zimmermann had been clocked at 90 mph on his slider, Rendon just shook his head.

“That is unfair,” Rendon said. “Did he throw a changeup tonight? I think he usually throws one. He stuck with three pitches tonight. How do you do that?”

Now at a National League-leading 19 wins, Zimmermann likely has one regular season start remaining. He said after the game that getting to 20 wins is not that important to him.

His teammates know, however, that he wants it.

“He is a modest guy,” Rendon said. “He is obviously not going to be like, ‘I am trying to get to 20.’ But, yeah, it would be awesome. Twenty games, that is a lot.”

“I don’t believe him, but OK,” Span said when told Zimmermann is not thinking about getting to the 20-win mark.

“I think 20 wins for a pitcher is like 20 home runs for a position player,” Span added. “Position player tells you 20 home runs is not important, they are probably not telling the truth. So, yeah, 20 wins for a starting pitcher seems to be the milestone. That is like the standard of a good, powerful, quality starting pitcher.”

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