Zimmermann with nine Ks as Nats-Marlins remain scoreless

If there’s one pitcher who had the power to make Nationals fans regain some hope in the wake of Stephen Strasburg’s impending Tommy John surgery, it’s Jordan Zimmermann. The 24-year-old is one of the few legitimate studs in the Nationals’ group of young pitchers, with the kind of shutdown stuff to put him at or near the front of a rotation. The Nationals hadn’t seen it in a year, but they’re getting it tonight.

Zimmermann has nine strikeouts in six innings, having whiffed five straight at one point, and has allowed just one hit in that time. The Nationals and Marlins are scoreless in the top of the seventh.

As the game has gone on, Zimmermann has gone almost exclusively to a fastball-slider mix, throwing his curveball less. He’s gone right after the Marlins’ aggressive lineup with his fastball, and as Bob Carpenter and Ray Knight pointed out on the air, there was an impressive sequence Zimmermann and Ivan Rodriguez used to strike out Mike Stanton at the end of a seven-pitch at-bat in the fifth. They’d thrown five fastballs and a slider to Stanton, and Zimmermann knew he wanted to finish the at-bat with a fastball. But he shook Rodriguez off several times anyway, cycling through his pitches to get Stanton guessing before blowing a fastball past him.

It’s raining at Sun Life Stadium now, and Zimmermann has thrown 86 pitches, so I’d be surprised if he comes back out. But what an impressive night for the right-hander.

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