After toying with the idea of skipping Jordan Zimmermann's last start before the All-Star break to ration the right-hander's innings, manager Davey Johnson said on Wednesday afternoon that Zimmermann will make his scheduled start on Sunday, pitching against the Rockies in the Nationals' last game of the first half.
Zimmermann, who is in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, will be shut down after he's pitched around 160 innings this season. He's thrown 108 2/3 innings this season, so if he averages around six innings a start (he's pitched 6.39 innings per start this season), he'd run out of innings in another eight or nine starts.
Instead of starting Ross Detwiler on Sunday, though, the Nationals will use Zimmermann as their fifth starter on the way back from the All-Star break, saving him until July 19 against the Astros. Johnson would like to have Zimmermann available at least until rosters expand on Sept. 1, and if he pitched every fifth game, he'd probably make his final start in the last few days of August.
"We have off-days (after his first start of the second half), so he might get six or eight days off before he pitches again," Johnson said. "It's not a great situation, but again, his welfare is more important."
Detwiler, who pitched 5 1/3 innings last night and got the win in a spot start, will stay in the majors for now, and Johnson said again he might use Detwiler as a long reliever or emergency starter out of the bullpen. Detwiler said after last night's game he hadn't heard much about that kind of a role, but it wouldn't be too different than what he was doing toward the end of last season, when he and Yunesky Maya were pitching on the same day.
One thing is fairly certain: Detwiler won't be used as a situational left-hander as long as he's with the Nationals.
"I will talk to him about how I will use him, when I will use him, and so will 'Cat' (pitching coach Steve McCatty)," Johnson said. "I want him to have his normal rest."