Two seasons ago, Jordan Zimmermann was limited to 160 innings in coming back from Tommy John surgery, setting the example that Stephen Strasburgwould follow the next season. Off his leash in 2012, Zimmermann had the best season of his young career, with a 2.94 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 195.2 innings. Many viewed this as a product of luck, with his 3.51 FIP and 3.78 xFIP being significantly higher than his ERA, but others disagreed, pointing to the paltry .004 decrease in Zimmermann’s batting average on balls in play. With these in mind, here are the projections from Zimmermann in 2013:
ZiPS: 152.2 IP, 119 K, 33 BB, 3.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
MLB.com: 199 IP, 161 K, 41 BB, 3.01 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
CBSSports: 190 IP, 158 K, 44 BB, 3.46 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
ESPN Fantasy: 205 IP, 165 K, 42 BB 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Averages: 186.2 IP, 151 K, 40 BB, 3.29 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
As I mentioned with the Detwiler preview, ZiPS is a program that calculates a pitcher’s performance, including innings pitched, based on the rest of his career. Since Zimmermann was limited to 160 innings in 2011 by the club, and not directly by an injury, ZiPS may erroneously believe that Zimmermann had injury problems in 2011, while he could likely have pitched 200 innings if the club had deemed it prudent. As such, I will consider their prediction a somewhat more unlikely scenario. The other predictions strike me as much more reasonable. Zimmermann should continue to improve, given that next year will be only his third full season in the majors. As he gets further away from his Tommy John surgery in 2010 and strengthens his arm, he should pitch more innings, but with his lucky 2012, his ERA will likely regress. I would expect a line of somewhere around 210 IP, along with a low-mid 3 ERA and sub-1.20 WHIP. He’s a top-30 fantasy starter, and may be a bit overrated given his 2012, but should be owned in all leagues. On the Nats, he should continue his borderline-All Star form, and proceed as one of the MLB’s best third starters.