The All-Star Game is just a few weeks away now. And if Jordan Zimmermann's 10-3 record and 2.26 ERA aren't doing enough to convince people that the 27-year-old right-hander belongs in the Midsummer Classic, his teammates are sure going to lend him some vocal support.
"Oh absolutely. Yeah, no question," Adam LaRoche said, when asked whether Zimmermann deserves his first All-Star Game selection. "He's had, I don't know, maybe two rough outings. Other than that, he's absolutely dominated. So it'd be good to see him in it, yeah."
Ian Desmond took things one step farther.
"I think he should probably start the game," Desmond said. "He's pitched unbelievable all year long, and if I was the manager, that's the horse I'd want right now.
Zimmermann delivered another showcase game tonight, holding the Rockies to one unearned run on six hits, with nine strikeouts and just one walk. Through four innings, he'd thrown 49 pitches, 41 for strikes. He went right at the Rockies, and this time was able to capitalize on the five runs the Nats gave him, unlike his last time out against the Indians.
"The last couple games they've given me 5-6 runs and tonight was one of those nights where I wasn't about to let this one slip away," Zimmermann said.
His eighth-inning strikeout of the fearsome Carlos Gonzalez, who has 21 homers on the season, showed how far Zimmermann has come in the last couple years. Not only does he have a fastball that touches 98 mph, a hard slider and a nice curveball, but he also now has a changeup that he trusts in big spots, like a 2-2 count in the eighth inning against Gonzalez with two runners on.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki wanted a high fastball in that spot, but Zimmermann shook to the change, and threw a dandy down and away that got Gonzalez swinging for the second out of the inning.
"Well I went with a fastball up (the previous pitch) and he was pretty much right on it," Zimmermann said. "I figured if I get a changeup anywhere close, he's going to swing at it. It was down bottom corner and it was a pretty good pitch."
At this point last year, did Zimmermann have the confidence in his change to throw it in that big a spot?
"No. I'm probably going slider in or another fastball," Zimmermann admitted. "And being able to whip that out late in the game is pretty big. ... I can throw it early in the game and even if it's not that good, they know I have it and will throw it and it's another pitch to have in the back of their minds so I definitely think it helps."
LaRoche's two-run triple was a big knock in the game, giving the Nats a 4-0 lead in the fifth. It was LaRoche's second triple of the season, to go along with two stolen bases, as well.
Where'd all this speed come from?
"It's a lot like wine: It gets better with age," LaRoche cracked. "I just get faster with age."
This was a nice, tidy win for the Nats. They played a pretty smooth game and got back to .500 at 36-36. They could use more like this the rest of the way out.
"We score five runs, Jordan goes out there and throws eight dominant innings, Soriano goes out there and closes it out, that's nice," Suzuki said. "I wish we could do that every night."