Jordan Zimmermann matching Cliff Lee early

It’s 69 degrees and sunny at Nationals Park tonight, one of the nicest nights we’ll have for baseball all season. And the way the first three innings of this game are shaping up, we could be in for some fun.

Cliff Lee has been impressive early, striking out every other hitter he’s faced in the first two innings. But Jordan Zimmermann has been just as good. He’s got three strikeouts in the first three innings, and the Phillies have hit just one ball out of the infield.

Most importantly, Zimmermann is working efficiently; he’s needed just 33 pitches to get through the first three innings, and he’s thrown 24 strikes. He’s been able to make his slider more effective with his fastball, and got a swinging strikeout on Lee to end the third inning.

Through most of their history, when they’ve faced a pitcher like Lee, the Nationals have had to hope he had an off-night and that their starter could give them a chance through six innings. Very rarely have they had anyone who could go up against an opposing ace and match him. Until Stephen Strasburg gets back, Zimmermann is the only one on their staff with the stuff to do it.