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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.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 11, 2009; 6:04 AM ET
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Next: Morning Reading



Will you see the Shuttle launch tonight?


Posted by: aneedell | March 11, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Zimmermann has command of the strike zone and Detwiler does not (at ALL!). Zimmermann throws MPH 94 and Ross does not (at all anymore). Zimmermann is tough mentally and Ross is lost.......I do not think we are going to be saying he was overrated Barry. Zimmermann is the real deal.....Ross.....I think Rizzo is going to regret the Jimbo like comments he made yesterday for a long time. Stan remembers things like that. What Stan would have liked to hear we something like, "we support all your young pithcers", "we expect them to improve each year and work hard with the coaching staff." "Ross knows what we expect from him to make this team".

Posted by: JayBeee | March 11, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

In the meantime...

So, Odalis, how is WBC turning out for you as a showcase for your "talent"?

Oh, I see. The Dominican Republic has been eliminated, and you didn't pitch even once.

Huh. Well, at least someone will give you a big, guaranteed contract on the merits of your winning personality and team spirit!


Posted by: kevincostello | March 11, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Now that the Dominican showcase is over for Pedro and ODP I'd like to see the Nats sign one of the two of these guys along with Duaner Sanchez. Hill and Cabrera are going to be "?'s" all season and Balestar's spring has been less than stellar. The bullpen is horrifying. They need a couple of stabalizing arms and this might turn out to be a halfway decent season.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 11, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

... have a good day, Barry. For me, it's going to be a day of healing ... the rift that has come between me and my boss because of the time I've spent lately participating in NJ.

... see ya'

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 11, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey +1/2St.,

... snarky :), but oh so true.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 11, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Hey Barry,

The DNMP stuff was the good stuff again today.......Who is the editor for this stuff?

Posted by: JayBeee | March 11, 2009 7:16 AM | Report abuse

What is Manny Acta's state of mind after the Dominican's loss to the Netherlands last night? He said that the first loss was a bigger upset than the USA over USSR Miracle on Ice. Where does that leave him in trying to deal with the second loss and total elimination of the Dominican? Is he on suicide watch?

And does anyone know if Yurendell deCaster who drove in the winning run for the Netherlands is still in the Nationals system somewhere?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 11, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

"Ouch....Mike Rizzo is openly calling the Jimbo years "dysfunctional" and admitting freely that Nats suffered from a total lack of respect by their peers in MLB."

Really? Where? Can you provide a link to any of this?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 11, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Barry - See you tomorrow at the Braves-Nationals game in Orlando!

BTW, I don't know why Manny is surprised by the Dominican's losses in the WBC. This wasn't like the All Star team of 2006. No Pujols. No Soriano. No Vlad. And their biggest change from 2006 is no Ronnie Belliard and the power swinger Wily Mo Pena!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 11, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Re. the WBC, after seeing that the rout was on in the Venezuela-Italy game, I switched over to the Dominican-Netherlands thinking that I could always root for Acta's team (I hadn't seen the previous match-up). However, the Dutch team quickly won my heart. Sorry, Manny, but seeing those kids rise up against the MLB all-stars was something else, and I do love an underdog.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Hey + 1/2,

Re: Odalis--maybe the phone in the bullpen didn't work

Barry, is there any interest in a Will Ohman or Joe Beimel? I echo the sentiment of many others in saying that a stabilizing arm in the bullpen would be welcomed.

Whats Ray King up to these days? (not what is he doing--what's his weight?)


Posted by: jfromPG | March 11, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Nah, anonymous sources and out-of-context quotes are where it's at nunof. That said, perhaps JayB's posting was inspired by his own interpretation of yesterday's Rizzo Q&A on the team site. Here's an excerpt and link:

" What do you want to accomplish by Opening Day?

Rizzo: I want to put the best 25-man roster in this very tough division. You have the Mets with their payroll. The Phillies are the defending World Champions. You have the Atlanta Braves making strides with what they are doing. The Florida Marlins are a well-run organization with what they do.

We are looking to change the culture in Washington, D.C. We want to be a well-respected, well-run, functional organization. We want to put professionals on the field and [we want them to] help us win games."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

oooh, good one on the phone, JoNAThan. hehe.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

So, natsfan1a1, are you JayBeee's anonymous source?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 11, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

No, nunof, just wanted to see some actual Rizzo quotes so that I could make up my own mind as opposed to going with JayB's (or anyone else's, for that matter) interpretation.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Then again, maybe JayB was inspired by a piece in the WaTimes today. (Excerpt below. Visit the site to read the full piece if you'd prefer to get it from the horse's mouth.):

"The game goes on. No matter what happens around us, there's going to be a game at 1 o'clock," Mr. Rizzo said. "That's how we get back on message and on point. ... The respectability factor is, we've got to conduct ourselves in a way that the Lerner family expects us to. We're changing the culture here."

He said he already felt a change in the Dominican Republic during his trip there - "I heard from many people who have sensed a total overhaul in the culture," he said - and feels the changes are already starting to build better relations around the game for the franchise.

"We're gaining respect in the Dominican and in baseball circles," he said. "Doing the right thing, in time, will switch the culture and make us that type of first-class organization."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Bit of a stretch to go from the Rizzo Times quote to this, wouldn't you say?

"Mike Rizzo is openly calling the Jimbo years "dysfunctional" and admitting freely that Nats suffered from a total lack of respect by their peers in MLB."

Kind of a dysfunctional translation there, actually. This JayBee fellow sure reeks more of anonymous source than solid journalist, doesn't he?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 11, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Or a spinmeister.

Tracee has some morning reading up (and the Baseball Insider has a WBC-related post, for those who are so inclined).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 11, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barry. I'm truly enjoying having you back on the beat although I'm sure that Mrs. NJ will ensure that it is a temporary gig.

I hear that off days are nice; in Viera, even better. Enjoy your lunch and tell us all about tomorrow.

Posted by: lowcountry | March 11, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: estuartj | March 11, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse


your second attempt was correct so that mixed with the first attempt = Rizzo admiting that they were not functional and they were not respected...Rizzo says he is trying to change that and that he is getting feedback that things are improving......

Posted by: JayBeee | March 11, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Pray tell, what does a 79 mph change-up look like, compared to a 78 mph change-up, or an 80 mph change-up?

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | March 11, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

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