Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Name: Jordan Zimmermann
Position: Starting Pitcher
The 2012 season was the year in which Jordan Zimmermann broke out as one of the premier starting pitchers in the National League. Jordan posted a sub-3 ERA in nearly 200 innings of work as the teams third starter, and while he faltered a tad bit in August (likely due to fatigue), he returned to form in September and helped the team deliver their first division title as the Nationals franchise. The 2012 season showed everyone that J-Zim had fully recovered from his 2009 Tommy John surgery and taken a step back towards fulfilling the sky-high potential he had when he was drafted in the first round in 2007.
After such a terrific breakout season, hopes were high for Zimmermann heading into 2013. While Jordan had been incredibly successful at missing the fat part of the bats of opposing hitters in 2012, there was a hope among Nationals fans that he could fully use his mid 90’s fastball and darting slider to generate more strikeouts. Zimmermann would also have less pressure than many other young pitchers with his success as he was the third “ace” in a stacked Nationals rotation.
While it would be inaccurate to say that Zimmermann took a step forward in 2013, he still put together another excellent season. His win total rose from 12 to 19 due to better run support, and he was named a National League All Star for the first time. Most impressive, however, was that he lowered his WHIP down to under 1.1 and threw 213 innings for a team that suffered from an inconsistent bullpen all year. This was mostly a result from him walking three less batters in 2013 than he did in 2012, despite throwing 20 more innings.
It may be unrealistic to expect that Jordan Zimmermann will improve much more in 2014, but it certainly is fair to expect more of the same. I think it’s clear that Zimmermann will likely never become a pitcher who racks up a dozen strikeouts every start, but he solidified his status as one of the best #2 pitchers in baseball last year and will likely do that again in 2014. A season of 3.00 ERA, 215 innings, and 15 or so wins is nothing to scoff at, and that is exactly what I expect Jordan to have in 2014.
Front office wise, J-Zim is going to start to get expensive pretty soon. After making 5.3 million this past season, Zimmermann will likely see his salary increase into the 8-9 million dollar range this season, and into the 12 million dollar range for 2015 if 2014 is another typical season for him. 2015 is the last season that Zimmermann is under team control for, so at this point, the Nationals should start to approach their young righty with a contract extension. A six or seven year deal in the $110 million dollar range would make sense for both parties.