Archive for the ‘Jordan Zimmermann’ Category

Zim, Bats Fell Giants

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Jordan Zimmermann finally got the help he needed, as the Washington Nationals rapped out ten hits at Nationals Park yesterday — and the Nats went on to beat the San Francisco Giants, 5-2. The win brought the Anacostia Nine to within one game of .500, with a final game against the Giants coming this evening.

Zimmermann scattered six hits over six innings, striking out four and walking only two. Zimmermann was followed by Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen, all of whom held the Giants scoreless. The big hits of the day were registered by Jayson Werth (who went 3-4) and Pudge Rodriguez, who stroked a clutch two run single in the 8th inning to give the Nationals some late-inning extra runs. Zimmermann registered his second win against four hard-luck losses, throwing 107 pitches, 69 of them for strikes.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: sometimes a slump isn’t just a slump — it’s just the way things are. While Jayson Werth finally seems to be getting on track (and has raised his average to .242), the rest of the Nine continue to struggle. In fact, some of those other sluggers in “The Valley of the Lost Bats” seem to be going the other way.

Adam LaRoche always has a slow April, but it’s now May. He’s hitting .189. Rick Ankiel has shown some life, but he might be right where he’s going to stay — at .230. Plus: those young bucks, Desmond and Espinosa, are lucky to be hitting better than their weight. The real sluggers on the team: Wilson Ramos . . . and . . . and Laynce Nix.

Zimmermann Gem, But Nats Fall

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

The Washington Nationals might not have found their replacement for Stephen Strasburg — but nearly so. The newly healed Jordan Zimmermann pitched a gem against the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night in Miami (giving up one hit and no runs through six complete innings), though the Fish won in the 10th inning, 1-0. Zimmermann was in complete control in only his second outing since returning to Washington — one year after having Tommy John surgery. He struck out nine and walked none in throwing just 86 pitches, 55 of them for strikes. “It’s probably the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Zimmermann said after the game. “I kept the ball down and actually got some fastballs inside, which I didn’t do in my first start.” The Marlins’ winning run came in the bottom of the 10th inning off of Drew Storen, as Hanley Ramirez slid under the tag of Nats’ catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

The game featured yet another Nyjer Morgan controversy, and one likely to seed the kind of bad blood that was present during the Nats-Cardinals series in Washington. In the top of the 9th, Morgan headed home for what would be the go-ahead run, attempting to beat a throw to the plate from infielder Ramirez. Morgan might have slid into home, but decided instead to move Marlins’ catcher Brett Hayes. The resulting collision (in which Morgan was called out) ended with Hayes on the ground, who left the game with an aching left shoulder. “Somebody who does that is looking to hurt somebody,” Hayes claimed after the game. But the Nats are contending that the Morgan-Hayes collision was a clean play: Morgan rarely slides feet-first into a base (and certainly not into home) and would not slide feet first with a catcher retrieving a ball thrown high. “I don’t have any problem with his decision,” Jim Riggleman said.

But in the wake of Morgan’s bump at home against the Cardinals during the last game of the last home stand (a bump for which Riggleman apologized), the collision on Tuesday night leaves lingering questions about Morgan’s intentions — and the Nats’ center fielder has been under pressure recently to produce at the same level that he did in ’09. Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider told the folks at ESPN 980 this afternoon that he thought the play, which has already generated controversy, was clean — a view that he articulated in his column on the game at Nats Insider: “Across the Nationals’ clubhouse, the prevailing sentiment was that Nyjer did the right thing. That came from players, from coaches and from front-office execs. All felt it was a clean play, and the right play.” But, during his radio interview, Zuckerman said that he doubted that Morgan would be with the Nats in center field next year. That may have little to do, however, with his play against either the Cardinals or his collision with Hayes. He is simply not the player now that he was for the Nats in ’10. And, in reflecting on tonight’s tilt in Miami, Zuckerman adds this: “If Morgan is in the Nationals lineup — and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be — don’t be surprised if he gets a fastball in the ribs.”

(above: Nyjer Morgan with Marlins catcher Brett Hayes — AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Auctions and Auditions

Friday, August 6th, 2010

It is that time of year, when contending teams stock up for a final run to the flag and non-contenders send unsubtle signals to their players about their plans for the future. In Kansas City (for instance), the Royals designated Jose Guillen for assignment and signaled that they would be open to dealing him to a contending N.L. team, perhaps the San Francisco Giants. The message couldn’t be plainer: after their three year $36 million splurge on Guillen, the Royals are calling it quits on the outfielder, who’s on the brink of free agency. And if the Royals can’t find a taker? Well, Guillen is free to find work elsewhere. Guillen isn’t the only one on the hot seat. In Florida, Cody Ross is getting unmistakable signs that he’s not in the team’s future plans, while in Chicago, baseball yakkers say that Kosuke Fukudome is so unwanted that the Cubs will not only ship him out to a team that wants him, but will pay a large part of his remaining salary if only he will go elsewhere.

The Washington Nationals are sending signals of their own. On Thursday, the Nats placed Nyjer Morgan on the 15-day disabled list. The Nats’ center fielder wasn’t pleased: “”It [freaking] sucks,” Morgan said. “I feel fine. But, whatever.” Nats’ skipper Jim Riggleman ignored the comment, putting his best this-is-really-terrible face on the move. “I hope it’s just two weeks,” he said. It seems likely that Morgan, despite his protest, gets it; he might “feel fine,” but the Nats don’t. By putting Roger Bernadina (.277, 8 HRs) in center and Michael Morse (.330, 7 HRs), in right, the Nats are auditioning their 2011 outfield: which would be younger and more potent– a good outfield, sans Morgan. The same kind of a signal was sent by Riggleman to Jason Marquis, who was recently reactivated and is set to pitch in Los Angeles on Sunday. After a season of elbow woes (and surgery to remove bone chips), Mike Rizzo & Company would love to include Marquis in their future plans. But whether Marquis is around for 2011 is an open question. He wants to contribute,” Riggleman said. “If he’s the real Jason Marquis, the guy who is sinking the ball and getting ground balls and attacking hitters, he can really help us and be a part of our future.” And if not?

After splitting their four game series with the woeful D-Backs in Phoenix, the Nats are 14.5 games back in the N.L. East. While there’s no chance that they’ll contend for a playoff spot, the rest of the season is hardly a wash: the team will spend the rest of the current campaign auctioning and auditioning — the Morgan-to-the-D.L. move is just the beginning. And based on what the Nats are doing now, you have to believe the future is bright. While the team cannot overtake the Chops or Ponies, the underfunded and disappointing Fish and the New York Palookas are within striking distance. If the Marlins (losers of four straight) have a plan (except for stockpiling young arms), we can’t find it, while the listless New York Tailspins are beset by “anxiety” and regularly “mailing it in.” For the first time in three years, the Nationals have nowhere near the same set of problems. The team has moved younger and better hitters (Bernadina and Morse) into key spots and are days away from a series of “you’re going to Hollywood” bookings that will start with Marquis and continue with appearances by Jordan Zimmermann (below), Yunesky Maya, Wilson Ramos and (even) Danny Espinosa. Which is not even to mention the continuing American Idol-like tour of “the kid” — who is now slated to start against the Marlins on Tuesday. The news is good for Nats fans: a team that was so filled with hope in April will be filled with even more hope come September.

Assessing The Second Half

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Just one year ago, in 2009, the Washington Nationals opened the second half of their season not only in last place in the NL East, but as the worst team in baseball. The problems then were obvious: the bullpen had imploded, regular outfielder Austin Kearns was slumping, there was no starting pitching and the team seemed uninvolved and detached. The challenge then was different than it is now: to change what was happening on the field, the Nats needed to change what was happening in the front office — a view reflected in ownership’s mid season open letter to fans that contained an embarrassing, but necessary apology. No such apology is needed now. While the Nats are yet again in last place in their division, the rebuilt bullpen is solid, Austin Kearns (DHL’d to Cleveland) has been replaced in the outfield by slugger Josh Willingham, the team’s starting rotation is filled with promise and the clubhouse is tight and optimistic. But perhaps the biggest revolution has been where the fans can’t see it: the front office is retooled — with an engaged general manager and a core of scouts and development experts who are competing with the best in baseball.

The challenges facing the 2009 Nats were obvious, the needed changes reflected in the standings. That’s less true now, particularly considering that the franchise controls one of the game’s premier young pitchers (Stephen Strasburg), has one of the most formidable 3-4-5 line-up combinations in the National League (Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham), is steadied by a future hall of famer behind the plate (“Pudge” Rodriguez), and has — waiting in the wings — a crowd of injured starting pitchers that could energize a second half surge (Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann, Scott Olsen and Chien-Ming Wang). Which is not to say that there aren’t problems. There are. The Nats defense is weak, the team’s set-up men are struggling, their center fielder is having problems on the base paths (and at the plate) and (pending the uncertain return of a quartet of tweeky arms) their starting pitching is shaky.

In 2009, these same problems (and their hypothetical resolution) spurred overly optimistic talk; that the Nationals were actually “only a player or two” from being good. That wasn’t true in 2009 — not even close, but it’s true now. The question for Mike Rizzo is whether he busts up a good thing to continue building, or whether he tweaks the team at the edges, hoping that the return of the Marquis-Zimmermann-Olsen-Wang quartet will provide the necessary spur to vault the team out of last place. It’s not an easy decision: busting up the team means trading popular and productive players (Dunn or Willingham, or both), while tweaking it at the edges probably (probably) means accepting that the Nats future is not now, but sometime next year. If there’s good news here, it’s this: Nats fans won’t have to wait until August or September to determine the team’s fate — that tale will be told before the July 31 trading deadline.

The Wisdom Of Secton 1-2-9: The CFG contingent arrived at the first game of the McCovey series with a new set of fans seated firmly in the row behind the regulars. That the two (I swear) looked like the spitting image of Omar Little and Stringer Bell was tempting: “hey, you two were great in The Wire.” The moment, thankfully, passed. The two turned out to be charter members of the Nyjer Morgan fan club, pumping their fists at every Nyjer moment: “My man,” one said, when Nyjer came to the plate. A row mate was not impressed, mimicking Casey At The Bat — “strike two said the umpire” and then the smile “not my style said Nyjer.” There were titters. When Morgan flipped his bat in disgust at a strike out served up by Matt Cain, the potential for a debate seemed electric, but one of the Morgan partisans smiled:  “You’ll see,” he said, to no one in particular. And he was right: Morgan was 2-5 and knocked in a run. “Hey man,” one of the Morgan fans said, but so we could hear it, “some of these fans don’t remember what Nyjer did for us last year.” His row mate nodded in agreement. “Yeah man, I know. Short memories.” This was greeted by silence. And chagrin. They were relentless, boring in for the kill. One of them tapped me on the shoulder: “That was a rope,” he said, after Morgan put a streaking line drive down the right field line. Okay, okay, okay . . .

“The problem with Clippard is that his curve just isn’t working,” one of the section’s middle relief experts opined in the second game of the San Francisco series. He didn’t need to keep making the point, Clippard was making it for him — “see, look at that.” Clippard looked terrible and shook his head as he came off the field. “He feels it,” and then there was just a tick before this, from a fan down the row: “Yeah, well, he should.” But the section remained optimistic (“he’ll get it back”), even as the Nats squandered a seemingly insurmountable lead (“yeah, but not this inning”). There were some few Giants fans in the seats, complete with newly minted, black and orange, Buster Posey jerseys. One Frisco fan (“San Francisco natives never use that term,” I was told) was tweeting with a family member, even as the Nats compiled a five runs lead. The message was pointed: “My boy Posey will regulate!” He did: 4-5 with 3 RBIs.

“A lot of leash with John . . .”

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Nats’ skipper Jim Riggleman made sure the press knew: John Lannan would remain in Washington’s starting rotation, had every right to be there, and would soon enough return to the good old days — when he led the Washington rotation. “I believe in John,” Riggleman said after Sunday’s 6-3 loss at the hands of Chicago’s White Sox. “There has to be something there because he has it in the bullpen. He’ll get the ball sinking. He just haven’t been able to do it in game situations. John has been too good for us to let a few starts detour us too much. We have a lot of leash with John.” Lannan was undoubtedly pleased with the vote of confidence from his manager: he failed to get out of the fifth inning for his third start in a row, yielding 11 hits and five runs in four innings of work — his worst inning coming after the Nats gained their first lead in the Chicago series.

Lannan’s troubles reflects his team’s troubles. Ryan Zimmerman is in a funk at the plate, Josh Willingham’s numbers of cratering and the get-on-base top of the order is failing to get on base. For all of that, the Nats’ front office seems unfazed — with no one scrambling impatiently to right the listing ship. Skipper Riggleman, in particular, seems willing to wait out the recent slump, counting on his hitter-heavy line-up and a bevy of young arms to set things right. “It’s just not happening for us right now. We are struggling,” Riggleman said in the wake of the Nats sixth straight loss. “Everybody in the locker room knows it. We are sticking together, though, and we are going to pass the character test. The character gets tested sometimes and we are getting tested right now.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Jim Kurtzke over at Nationals Daily News details the problems the Nats will have in their starting rotation without a solid Lannan. Kurtzke points out that 2010 was to be a transition year for the rotation, with Lannan slotted as a solid number 3 behind Strasburg and a healthy Zimmermann. And now? His reflections are well worth reading . . . Federal Baseball spends five minutes with Tyler Clippard — and finds out what makes the Nats’ reliever tick. Clippard is a fan of Washington fans. “The fans here in Washington have been great so far ever since I stepped foot in this organization, and being in the big leagues here,” Clippard says, “even last year when we were losing a bunch the fans were still great to us as players and stuff . . .” It sounds like Clippard would rather be here than anywhere else. The big righty extols the talents of pitch-caller Ivan Rodriguez and fellow set-up wizard Drew Storen . . . It’s good to see that we’re not the only ones feeling our age. Nationals Fanboy Looser (former newspaperman Mike Harris) remembers watching a 1962 tilt at the Polo Grounds in a tribute to Father’s Day. It’s a nice reminder of what baseball was like back before the Peloponnesian War . . . Nats 320 outdid themselves with a detailed look at Sunday’s game, along with a series of in-game photos. They write that the Nats’ slump is a team effort and point out that the Nats-Royals tilt on Monday night will be the first time that the Nats and Royals have matched up since the Nationals became the Nationals in 2005 . . .

Buying And Selling

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

While Nats bloggers have been going back-and forth about whether the team needs another bat or another arm, Mike Rizzo seems to have made up his mind. They need both. Yeah, okay — that’s the right answer. But if Rizzo was pressed (and trade bait was short), what do you think he’d really want? Given John Lannan’s continued troubles and the uncertainty surrounding the return of any number of potential starters, the answer should be obvious: not only can you can always play Roger Bernadina in right field, but you absolutely need to; we’re never going to find out whether this kid can hit unless we put him in the line-up every day. Which means that the Nats should be looking for a pitcher to supplement their front (and only) two hurlers — Stephen Strasburg and Livan Hernandez. Let’s be honest. You never know what you’re going to get with Atilano and Martin, Olsen is just too tweaky too often to be counted as a stalwart, pitching messiah Jordan Zimmermann is a ways away from rehabbing and Ross Detwiler is still an unknown. That leaves Chien-Ming Wang (who won’t be here until July) and Jason Marquis — who has yet to show the team anything. So . . .

So who’s out there?

There’s Cliff Lee, who will be available once the cratering Navigators figure out that doling out $91 million in salaries for a last place team isn’t going to cut it. Lee is in the last months of a four year deal, and the Nats would have to look to sign him longer term, but our guess is that the Mariners will happily take good prospects for him — including Triple-A pitchers and Double-A position players that have a future. The Nats have either, and both. In exchange, the Nats would get a veteran fastball pitcher who could mentor Strasburg and an absolutely lights out number two starter (number one anywhere else), who can rack up some badly needed wins. The folks in Seattle say they won’t part with Lee without getting a big time power hitter in return, but that sounds like wishful thinking. Lee isn’t going to stay in Seattle after this year, especially to anchor what promises to be a development team of young prospects and remaining big contracts. It’s an ugly but pertinent truth: the Mariners will take prospects — or they can keep Lee and try to catch the fast disappearing Belinskys, White Elephants and Whatchamacallits. They’ll make the trade — maybe Mike will too.

Then there’s Roy Oswalt, but his contract is a nightmare: just over $9 million over the rest of this season, $16 million in 2011, and $16 million in 2012 with a club option buyout of $2 million. The Nats say they have money to up their salary ceiling, but Oswalt’s price might be a little high — particularly if (as expected), the Nats would have to pick up most if not all of the salary and throw in prospects. Bottom line: he won’t be cheap. But then, there’s always Jake Peavy. Don’t laugh: the former Friar has struggled with the Pale Hose and it appears he’s losing patience with wheeling-and-dealing Kenny Williams and the perpetually enraged Ozzie the G. He recently told a reporter that he would rather be traded than go through a rebuilding process in Chicago. Translation? “Get me the hell out of here.”

It’s hard to blame him: Peavy was a part of a rebuilding process in San Diego — and the team only started to rebuild when he left. Then too, the ChiSox probably look at the Peavy trade with some remorse; they dealt prospects to San Diego, one of whom (Clayton Richard) has turned into a front line pitcher — 4-3, 2.71 ERA. That’s a damn sight better than Peavy (5-5, 5.62 ERA). Ugh. The White Sox might try the same magic, trading Peavy for pitching prospects in the hopes of striking gold. The Nats could help. Of course, Peavy sports a huge contract ($52 million, three years), a teensy bit bigger than Oswalt’s which (for paperclip counter Mark Lerner) is always a problem. But in the end (and if you carefully weigh this out), the Nats could find a rental (like Lee) for some front line prospects or they could take the longer view (which is probably what Rizzo wants) and pony up some prospects and some cash. In either case, while none of these pitchers are going to come cheap, bringing any one of them aboard right now (or in the very near future) will probably mean the difference between a club that will continue its slow-but-certain downward spiral and one that might be able to contend — and fill the seats.

Stammen Is Stayin’

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Planning in baseball is like planning in war: no matter how good you strategize, things never turn out the way you expected. So it is with the Nats’ starting rotation. The off-season speculators shaped a starting five that included two no-brainers (Marquis and Lannan) with three or four questions. But the fill-in-the-blank wunderkinds of the press always seemed to skip Craig Stammen. They weren’t the only ones. Let me see, there was Marquis, Lannan, Olsen, Hernandez and Mock; or Marquis, Lannan, Olsen, Martin and Mock (an “m-heavy” rotation) — oh, and there was even Marquis, Lannan, Olsen, Detwiler and Wang. But no matter what the permutations there was rarely (although, some few noticed), any mention of Craig Stammen.  But the 6-3, 200 pound righty (it appears) has won a place in the Nationals’ starting rotation after a solid Florida Spring and a little attention. He’s now on the radar — and then some.  

Granted, there’s not much to look at: while Stammen showed flashes of maturity in the forgettable 2009 campaign, his let’s-not-talk-about-it sore elbow and his 4-7 5.11 numbers were nothing to brag about. Justifiably (perhaps) Nats’ fans were more excited about the arrival of “the answer” and focused on Jordan Zimmermann’s Tommy John surgery. Then too, it didn’t help that Stammen arrived in Washington virtually unannounced — one of a bevy of slump-shouldered pitchers that included Detwiler, Mock, Balester, Martis, Zimmermann, Martin and Mock. That he waited in line behind the likes of the forgettable and embarrassing Daniel Cabrera was to be expected: this was the Bowden era, a period of time in our short history now empillared in the dictionary next to the word “nightmare.”

But Craig Stammen has not been a secret to those who have watched him. The more he’s pitched the more attention he’s earned. Despite last year’s numbers, there seemed to be a sense in the Nationals’ front office that the Ohio native could turn into something special. Stammen’s strike out numbers with the Savannah Sand Gnats of the Sally League were good, though  (as is common with the Buckeye), not quite heart-stopping: he struck out 109 in 143 innings. With a little more speed he-coulda-really-been-something. Even so, he worked his way up — to Potomac and Harrisburg and Syracuse. His arrival in Washington, therefore, was hardly a triumph. And yet … yet, here he is, a pitcher who is now slotted for the fourth (or even third) slot in the starting rotation and (at least thus far) a Nationals’ success; proof positive that the organization can develop pitchers.

That might be a pretty good front four: Strasburg, Marquis, Lannan and Stammen — even if we have to wait for June to see it. 

File:Savannah Sand Gnats.PNG

Zim Wins Goslin MVP Award

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

The Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association has voted Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman its 2009 Goose Goslin MVP Award. The award is voted on by the DC-IBWA — an organization that represents Washington Nationals’ internet writers, on-line media outlets, and bloggers. Goslin was a left fielder for the Washington Senators from 1921-30, 1933 and 1938. He also played for the St. Louis Browns (1930-32) and the Detroit Tigers (1934-37). As Nationals News Network notes in quoting from the Hall of Fame’s description: “Burly and strong-armed, Leon Goose Goslin swung the bat with Ruthian effort and forged a reputation as a powerful clutch-hitter. He spearheaded his teams to five American League pennants — three with the Senators and two with the Tigers. He drove in 100 or more runs on 11 occasions and hit .300 or better 11 times, compiling a .316 lifetime average and 2,735 hits. He led the Senators to a World Series title in 1924 with a .344 average and three home runs.”

Zimmerman played in 157 games for the Nats in 2009, hitting .292 with 33 home runs. 106 RBIs and 110 runs scored. His amazing defensive play at third base puts him in line to receive his first gold glove award. Zimmerman finished seventh in at bats, seventh in plate appearances, fourth in runs scored, eighth in extra base hits and sixth in RBIs in the National League. By any measure his was an extraordinary season.  

Zimmerman took first place honors with 88 points, including 14 first place votes. Nyjer Morgan finished second and Willie Harris a distant third. The Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year Award was given to John Lannan, with second place going to Jordan Zimmermann and third to Craig Stammen. The Frederick “Firpo” Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year award was given to a deserving Tyler Clippard. Other awards were given to Adam Dunn (Frank Howard Slugger of the Year), Nick Johnson (Mickey Vernon Comeback Player of the Year), John Lannan (Josh Gibson Humanitarian Player of the Year), and Derek Norris (Minor League Player of the Year). Zimmerman took three awards in all: the MVP award, the Sam Rice Hitter of the Year award and the Joe Judge Defensive Player of the Year award.

Voters for the awards were asked to name first, second and third place for each category. First place votes received five points, second place votes received three points and third place votes received one point. Twenty ballots from association members were submitted from the following online media outlets: Nationals News Network, Nationals Pride, We’ve Got Heart, Centerfield Gate, FJB, Federal Baseball, The Nationals Enquirer, DC Sports Box, Nationals Inquisition, Nats Fanboy Looser, Planetary Nats, Bang! Zoom!, Nats Nation, Let Teddy Win!, Nationals Review, DC Sports Plus, and Passing Time Between Wil Nieves Bombs. Full results can be found at Nationals News Network.

Strasburg Gets His Red On

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I like the Strasburg deal. I really do. Who doesn’t like the potential of a 100 mph heater and a killer breaking ball coupled with the grit of a Jonathan Paplebon?  The Nats get a great prospect for not goofy money and the kid gets a record contract and chance to shine. Everybody wins.

SStras
 
What I don’t like is all the breathless jabbering about it. Some people are talking about it like it’s their first kiss. On WJFK 106.7 FM “The Fan” (oh, please) just after the deal was inked, the announcer said all Nats fans must be “ecstatic” at the news. Pleased? Yeah, maybe. Optimistic, sure. Ecstatic? I guess. If I was ten. 
 
One of the blogs ran the banner headline: “Washington Nationals SIGN STEPHEN STRASBURG!!!!” (exclamation points in the original). Okay, they’re excited. It is a good day for the franchise. I get it. But I think I would have been more excited if they signed Roy Halladay. I am certainly not in the Thomas Boswell camp who said in yesterday’s Post that this signing is the Nat’s “redemption.” One 21-year-old can’t do that all by himself no matter how good he is. There are 24 other guys that need to help too. 

I’m from Missouri on this kid; show me then I’ll get excited. He’s a great college pitcher. Let’s see if that translates to effectiveness in the bigs. I’m willing to wait three or four years to find out if he’s got the stuff.  I don’t expect miracles (and neither should anyone else). And, by God, I hope he is great. But at this point he’s got tremendous potential and he’s completely unproven in a situation where the big dogs run.
 
Let’s all take a breath, get the stars out of our eyes, and wait to see what happens before we start planning to buy playoff tickets a year from now. Doesn’t the name Jordan Zimmermann mean anything?

Mock Tames Reds

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

In the immediate aftermath of one of this season’s more-than-typical collapses — in which nothing worked — the Washington Nationals rebounded for a 2-0 defeat of the Cincinnati Reds, in which everything worked. Garrett Mock, on the heels of a steady start against the Showboats (which he won 5-2) pitched a six inning gem and the Nats took the second game of the four game set against the Redlegs 2-0. Mock got into trouble in the sixth inning, when he loaded the bases, but he was able to pitch out of the jam. Other than that, Cincy’s bats remained silent and Mock remained steady; he threw 101 pitches, 59 of them for strikes.

After a shaky outing on Thursday, the Nats’ bullpen was superb, with Jorge Sosa, Sean Burnett, Jason Bergman and Mike “Heart Attack” MacDougal blanking Dusty Baker’s pitching-light Red Stockings through three perfect innings. MacDougal sailed through the ninth, recording his twelfth save. The game could not have been scripted any better: the starting pitching was strong, the relievers looked untouchable and (while the Nats were not overpowering at the plate) the Anacostia nine got hits when they needed them — on improbable solo shots from Wil Nieves and Ronnie Belliard.

Garrett Mock

Down On Half Street: The clock is ticking on the deadline for signing first overall pitching messiah Stephen Strasburg. Bill Ladson and the Washington Times are reporting that the Nats met with Strasburg last week in Southern California. Ladson reports that team officials came away from their meeting impressed by the young righthander. If he is signed, Strasburg may be called to the big club in September . . . It seems notionally true, particularly in the wake of Jordan Zimmermann’s impending Tommy John surgery, that the Nats may need Strasburg more than ever. But that knife (so to speak) cuts both ways. The Nats are in a need of a young starter — true — but Zimmermann’s injury points up the fragility of young arms, particularly as the Nats were careful not to overpitch J.Z., setting strict limits on his pitch and game numbers . . .

As Ladson points out, David Clyde and Ben McDonald are the only other two pitchers in MLB history to be drafted #1 and pitch in the majors in the same year. Clyde was rushed into the Rangers’ rotation (as a way of bringing fans to the park) and didn’t pan out, while McDonald battled arm problems during a curtailed career . . . Scott Boras is apparently telling reporters that Strasburg deserves the same level contract (about $50 million) as Daisuke Matsuzaka. If true, Boras may want to rethink his peroration: Dice-K is 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA and is battling “shoulder fatigue. He is probably out for the season . . . Everyone is remaining silent on the Nats’ chances and most particularly Strasburg’s agent; but that’s not unusual for Scott Boras, who usually negotiates to the last second . . .