How high can Jordan Zimmermann go in 2013?

Not only was Bryce Harper apparently pretty excited to welcome kids to his doorstep for Halloween, he also threw on a costume himself.

What did the 20-year-old dress up as? Take a look.

And be proud of me for avoiding the obvious joke about his attire.

If you still needed a reason to consider pitchers’ wins a useless statistic, look at the stats line put up by Jordan Zimmermann this season.

The Nationals right-hander posted a 2.94 ERA, seventh-best in the National League. He walked just 43 hitters in 195 2/3 innings, had a 1.17 WHIP and had 24 quality starts among his 32 regular season games pitched.

Oh, yeah, and Zimmermann went just 12-8 on the season.

For much of the year, Zimmermann was unquestionably one of the top starting pitchers in baseball. He had a lowly 2.28 ERA after his first 21 starts of the season, and every single one of those 21 outings lasted at least six innings.

Talk about consistency.

Zimmermann tailed off a bit down the stretch, recording a 4.40 ERA over his final 11 regular season starts and then allowing five runs over just three innings in his first career postseason outing.

He bounced back from that subpar start in Game 2 of the National League Division Series to throw one of the most dominant innings I’ve ever seen in person just two games later, however. He came out of the bullpen to strike out the side on just 12 pitches in Game 4 against the Cardinals.

After all he accomplished this season, Zimmermann should go into 2013 ready to really break out.

You look at what he’s done the last three years since coming back from Tommy John surgery, and you’ll see the 26-year-old’s ERA has dropped steadily as his innings have increased.

In 2010, Zimmermann returned to the Nationals to pitch 31 innings at the end of the season, putting up a 4.94 ERA in the process. He threw 161 1/3 innings in 2011 while on the same limit that Stephen Strasburg faced this last season, and Zimmermann recorded a 3.18 ERA prior to being shut down. This season, Zimmermann saw a full workload, working 195 2/3 regular season innings and pitching to that 2.94 ERA.

Zimmermann should enter spring training in a few months sporting a completely healthy right arm with plenty of strength built up from last season. He’ll be allowed to work a little deeper into games (not once during the entire 2012 season did Zimmermann pitch into the eighth inning) and now has faced enough major league hitters to have a book on how to attack guys.

Zimmermann has reached a pretty high level at a fairly young age, especially when you factor in the major elbow surgery. How much further can he go next season? It’s hard to say, but it should be fun to find out.

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