Rachel Levitin: Unassuming Zimmermann the stopper the Nats need

Jordan Zimmermann's 2-0 win over Atlanta last night helped the Nationals snap the team's nine-game losing streak against the Braves. It's already apparent that the Nats have a few growing pains in their transition from the 2012 season to 2013, but that's the thing about baseball - you never quite know exactly how a singular game is going to shake out, let alone an entire season, until it's all said and done.

What's great about Zimmermann's success this season thus far is that his work serves as a reminder of what the other not as widely acknowledged players on the ballclub are capable of contributing. That's not to say the general baseball-watching American public doesn't know who Zimmermann is but rather names like Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, and Jayson Werth tend to spread the gamut a bit more often.

He's never been a spotlight seeker. All he wants to do is his job. And that's exactly what he keeps on doing.

Zimmermann's 5-1 this season after shutting out the Braves on two hits over eight innings. He lowered his ERA to 1.64 and extended his shutout streak to 18 innings. As the No. 3 guy in the starting rotation on a team in which a steady stream of offense is hard to come by, Zimmermann is the stopper the Nats so desperately need.

It's helped that Washington's defense is backing Zimmermann up, but the Nats' issues aren't going to be fixed by Zimmermann's ability to play stopper every few days. The good news is that he's remained reliable and is a work horse accomplishing the job needed. The bad news is the Nats still haven't figured out exactly what their issue is.

"I don't think it's trying to do too much," Ian Desmond told MASN's Dan Kolko earlier this week. "I think it's trying to do your best. Sometimes good is just good enough. If everyone is just good, we're a really good ballclub. Everyone at their best, we're an excellent ballclub. But not everyone's gonna be at their best every day. You have to be good more than you're bad, and excellent sometimes."

The Nats are in a unique circumstance that no other Nats team has yet to face: self-imposed pressure to live up to the high expectations forced upon them by the baseball viewing public, their team of coaches, and themselves. Zimmermann can only help so much, he's but one man on a 25-man roster, but it's good for the Nats to know and acknowledge where their strengths are this season and to maximize those strengths whenever possible.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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