Good morning. I'm going a little bit Buster Olney-style with this, cobbling together a couple notes in bullet-point format. But if you're going to imitate somebody, might as well imitate the best, right?
- Jordan Zimmermann, who will be called up to pitch for Stephen Strasburg on Thursday, according to a source in the organization, represents a shot of hope for the Nationals. He's seen as their future No. 2 to Strasburg's No. 1, and will become the only pitcher in their rotation with the ability to rack up strikeouts, at least until (or if) Strasburg returns.
Zimmermann has fanned 31 in 39 2/3 minor league innings this year and led the Nationals with 92 strikeouts last year before he had Tommy John surgery (Hmmm...Strasburg also had 92 strikeouts, also leading the team, when he got hurt this year. Is there a curse of strikeout No. 92 looming?). He'll likely be on a strict pitch count and innings limit this year - I wouldn't expect to see him go much deeper into games than the fifth or sixth inning - but it will be big for the Nationals to get him back.
- I heard again last night just how interested the Nationals would be in Rays first baseman Carlos Pena if he becomes a free agent this winter. One source in the organization said the Nationals' braintrust "loves him," and I could definitely see the Nationals making a run at him if they don't resign Adam Dunn.
And come to that subject, I'm starting to wonder how likely it is that Dunn gets an extension. The interest in Pena, coupled with the drawn-out nature of the discussion, makes me think it won't happen, and club sources are also skeptical that the Nationals will resign the first baseman before he hits free agency. Pena is two years older than Dunn, but won a Gold Glove award in 2008 and averaged 38 homers from 2007-09 (he has 24 this year). He's slumped this year at the plate and might come with a smaller commitment - either in dollars or years - than Dunn, though it's hard to gauge his market until he gets to free agency.
Just a couple things to keep in mind. What do you think of the Pena possibility?