Goodness gracious, Jordan Zimmermann. He just threw the best game in Washington Nationals history. Thanks to the offense’s shortcomings, he also had an incredibly high Win Probability Added. Complete game shutout, one hit, one walk. Only four strikeouts, but only 91 pitches. It was an incredible effort, and is sure to put him on the national radar, when before he has been criminally underrated in the early season (no All-Star appearances).
Most Important Nationals Hit: Bryce Harper‘s triple (+9.2%)
Not much of a day for offense. The Nats did manage six hits, a veritable boon compared to every game before Thursday’s, but they were scattered well by Homer Bailey. After this hit, Jayson Werth would single to drive Harper home, accounting for the Nats’ only run of the game. Werth may have had the best offensive game, with two hits and a WPA of +7.8%. He was only one of two Nats with a positive offensive WPA, the other being Denard Span‘s +0.4%.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Xavier Paul‘s single (-4.1%)
This was by far the most important pitch for the Reds for two reasons: 1. It came early in a close game. 2. It was their only hit. The Nationals held the Reds to just one hit for back-to-back games, which is the first time that has happened to Cincinnati since William McKinley was president. There are exactly seven people in the United States who were alive the last time it happened. I can’t say enough about how incredible this feat is. Zimmerman certainly cleared the bar Gonzalez set yesterday.
Apr 26, 2013; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) pitches in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Champ of the Game: Zimmermann was +66.7%. That is, by far, the largest number I have seen in my time of running this feature. Gonzalez would likely have approached it yesterday if it weren’t for the offense’s successes. This game was a perfect storm: Zimmermann pitched incredibly, and the offense floundered. Homer Bailey (-11.5%) was the reason why the Nats’ bats floundered again, as he pitched seven dominant innings, allowing just five hits and one run.
Chump of the Game: Adam LaRoche (-9.8%) is in the deepest of funks, now hitless in his last 19 at-bats. However, as a veteran who has always had April troubles, LaRoche should not be giving us too much to worry about. Leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo (-14.1%) went 0-4 for Cincinnati.