As consistent as they come

Let's have fun with some numbers for a bit.

Factoring in his outing last night in a win against the Tigers, Jordan Zimmermann has a 1.59 ERA this season, which ranks fourth in the majors behind just Matt Harvey, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander.

Pretty good company, if you ask me.

Zimmermann has a 0.82 WHIP, which ranks third in the bigs, and his six wins ties for the most in the league. He has six quality starts (defined as at least six innings of work and no more than three earned runs allowed) in seven outings. His two complete games ties for most in the majors. Zimmermann's 13.3 pitches per inning is still tops in all of baseball.

I know, I know. I listed pretty much these same numbers after Zimmermann's last outing. But given the way the Nationals' right-hander has continued to dominate on a consistent basis, these numbers deserve to be re-examined.

The last three times out, Zimmermann has pitched gems against three incredibly dangerous offensive teams, teams that all rank in the top 12 in the league in runs scored.

Think the Tigers and their .285 team batting average intimidate Zimmermann? Or the fact that they had scored 74 runs in their last 10 games (nine of which were wins) entering last night? Think again.

"Same Jordan," Adam LaRoche said. "He goes up there, I don't think he's scared of anybody. I don't think he cares who's hitting. He's pounding the zone and working ahead, sticking with his plan. It continues to pay off."

What's maybe been most impressive about Zimmermann over the last two seasons isn't just his ability to shut teams down on any given night. It's been the consistency with which he's done so.

There are plenty of pitchers out there who have the ability to throw seven scoreless. Can they back it up their next time out? What about the start after that? Zimmermann has proven he can.

Dating back to the start of last season, Zimmermann has gone at least six innings in 32 of his 39 outings. He's delivered 30 quality starts in that span, making him one of only four pitchers with at least 30 quality starts since the start of the 2012 campaign (Verlander and R.A. Dickey have 31, Clayton Kershaw also has 30).

This season, he's going after hitters even more than in the past (even with offspeed stuff early in counts) and keeping his pitch-count low, allowing him to work at least seven innings in five of his seven starts.

"Jordan is fun to watch," Tyler Clippard said. "I think this year he's just smarter and more mature. But he attacks guys, and this year more than any other year he's throwing a lot more breaking balls for strikes and throwing their timing off, and on top of all of that, he's locating. With all that going for him, he's doing a tremendous job.

"He's been as good as it gets I think for a few years now. He's been one of our most solid guys out there. Every five days you give him the ball, he's durable and he goes and attacks guys, and that's what you want out of anybody in the starting rotation. He's given us that year-in and year-out over the last few years."

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