Zimmermann: Didn't Make The Paper
So by now it's obvious I wrote about Jordan Zimmermann for the $.75-edition, and I think his development is one of the most intriguing storylines of the spring. And I hope some of you hadn't heard the story about his wired-shut jaw, etc. It's oft-told in Nationals stories.
However, left out from the story, in a DMTP kinda way, is the baseball-specific analysis of Zimmermann's stuff. So here goes with that. All this stuff is gleaned from chats with Manny Acta, Mike Rizzo, Randy St. Claire, Zimmermann and others, as well as observation of Tuesday's outing.
Zimmermann's fastball is basically from 90-94 mph. He throws mostly four-seamers, and he was consistently at 93 mph with that pitch today. I saw him touch 94 once, but I can't say that I looked at the scoreboard mph chart after every single pitch. He'll mix in some two-seamers as well, and that's not quite at the same velocity, which is normal.
His next-best pitch -- perhaps his best pitch -- is his slider. "It's tight, a little back-door slider that's good," Ryan Church told me after facing Zimmermann three times yesterday. The slider is 87 mph or so, which is plenty hard enough. In college, he could get by with those two pitches alone. And Tuesday, those were really the only ones that he had command of. However ...
He does have a curveball. St. Claire, the Nats pitching coach, noticed he hadn't used it much Tuesday, and he told Zimmermann to use it a couple of times in the fourth inning. It wasn't there, but he went to it anyway, just to get a feel for it. That impressed St. Claire.
"Even without his best stuff, he's still ahead of most of the hitters," St. Claire said. "And he goes after them."
The last pitch, the one Zimmermann is still learning, is his changeup. St. Claire said when Zimmermann throws it in the bullpen, it looks great. But Acta said, "It's a little hard." The key with a changeup, obviously, is to get separation in speed from the fastball. It looked to me like it was 79 mph a couple times today, but with no replay and a bad angle from the pressbox, that could've been a slow curveball, and I wouldn't have known. Zimmermann said he threw only a couple against the Mets.
St. Claire's assessment of his stuff:
"Very good. Slider, curveball, fastball, and the changeup is his worst pitch, but that's coming along nicely. We need to get maybe a few miles an hour off it, maybe a little bit less on it. But it's going to be a good one. He loses a couple miles on it, it's going to be devastating for him."
That's the physical stuff, the things that hitters will talk about. But the Nationals believe it comes with a complete mental side of it too.
"What I've liked about him is he's got a full package," Rizzo said. "He's got four pitches. He throws them for strikes. He's got poise on the mound. And I think the No. 1 attractive part of him right now is he has no fear on the mound. He's not afraid of failing. He trusts his stuff, and he's got the propensity to pound the strike zone with four pitches, which kind of separates him from other 22-year-olds."
We may end up, in a week or a month or a year, saying Zimmermann was over-rated, as some of you have pointed out about Detwiler and the assessments made around the time he was drafted. The difference here, I think, is that big leaguers have come to me and said they're impressed by the kid. I've seen him with my own eyes now, and while it's one outing, it's a good place to start.
Maybe the kid will flop. But it'll certainly be interesting watching for the rest of spring -- and, I would guess, well into the season.
Other stuff prior to the Nats' off day:
Boz is enjoying the WBC. I have to say, I'm much more intrigued this time around than I was in 2006. And the notebook has some more about Duaner Sanchez and the bullpen. Though I'm told the interest in Sanchez is "mild," I'll check some more on Wednesday.
No game today. Likely to trickle out some posts during the day, but will really pick back up again on Thursday from Disney.
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