How good was Jordan Zimmermann tonight?
He was facing a Reds team that had scored the second-most runs in the National League coming into the game, and he held them scoreless.
Six of his nine innings lasted just 10 or fewer pitches.
He faced 30 batters and threw just 32 balls.
You can do the math. That’s impressive stuff.
“I felt great. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Zimmermann said after his first career compete-game shutout. “A really good slider tonight and a good fastball to go with it. We knew they swung early and we wanted to throw first-pitch strikes and quality pitches and let them get themselves out and let the defense work. And that’s what we did tonight.”
Zimmermann allowed just three baserunners all night: Xavier Paul blooped a single to center in the third, Todd Frazier reached on an error in the fifth and Corky Miller drew a walk in the eighth. None of the three moved into scoring position.
Zimmermann pounded the zone with an array of pitches. He threw 55 fastballs, a pitch that topped out at 96 mph when he got Joey Votto looking in the fourth. Zimmermann also mixed in 19 sliders, 11 curveballs and two changeups, keeping the Reds off-balance.
“I’m just throwing strikes and trying to get ahead of guys and not trying to get deep in the counts and letting them put the ball in play,” Zimmermann said. “I don’t care about strikeouts. I don’t want to walk anyone. So that’s what I’m going to try and do.”
Zimmermann wanted to get ahead in the count, but he saw how the Reds were approaching their at-bats with Gio Gonzalez Thursday night. They took a lot of early hacks, telling Zimmermann that while it was important to throw strikes early in the count, they needed to be quality strikes, and he needed to mix in some offspeed stuff on the first pitch of at-bats.
“I was watching last night and (Gonzalez) was staying in the bottom of the zone, too,” Zimmermann said. “And they were swinging early just like tonight. I saw that figured I gotta do the same. And it was the same results.
“I’ve always liked first-pitch curves to get ahead of the guys, just flip it in there. I feel comfortable throwing it. Some of these guys swing early and pretty aggressive. I figured if I can flip that in there and get them to flyout or groundout and it was working.”
If you toss out Zimmermann’s previous outing, when he went five innings in a loss to the Mets, he’s averaged 12.0 pitches per inning in his other four starts. Just as a point of comparison, Bartolo Colon led the majors last season in fewest pitches per inning among starters, at 14.05.
He’s working deep into games, he’s limiting his pitches and he’s having a great deal of success.
“I feel good,” Zimmermann said. “Every time out I’ve felt good so far.”