Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez revealed before the All-Star Game that he hoped to have Ryan Zimmerman back from the DL on Friday.
The first baseman hasn’t played for the Nationals since May 9th but could be ready to make a big impact. If they get back anything close to the 2017 incarnation of Zimmerman, they’ll get a difference-maker.
He’s now played two rehab games, one with the Potomac Nationals and one with the Harrisburg Senators. All be it against lower minor league competition, he’s 3 for 5 with a home run and a couple of walks. He crushed the long ball on the first pitch he saw with the Senators.
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It looks like Zimmerman is ready to pick up where he left off when he hit the DL. In his last 16 games, he was hitting .311 with four homers and even had a wRC+ of 154.
He was also squaring the ball up in that time, with the seventh highest average exit velocity in the league at 93.9 mph, among those with 50 balls in play. And if he can keep that up, he should be able to replicate last season’s success.
In 2017, Zimmerman was eighth in the same category last year, with an exit velocity of 91.4 mph. And that year he hit .303 with 36 home runs and 108 RBIs, winning comeback player of the year. If the Nats get anything close to that level of performance, we’re in for a treat.
What’s going to be interesting to watch, is how the roster crunch plays out when Zimmerman is activated. Coming off of the 60 day DL, they’ll need to clear room on the 40 and 25 man rosters.
The obvious choice right now would be to designate Mark Reynolds for assignment. Although at times this year, he’s been a revelation for the team. He started off hitting .432 in his first 12 games with the team, but then the struggles set in.
Then over the next 17 games, he batted merely .100 and struck out 20 times practically being an automatic out. With all of the first baseman on the team in Zimmerman, Matt Adams and now even Daniel Murphy, Reynolds is arguably the least reliable hitter.
The only other feasible option, given the short bullpen currently, would be to DFA Brian Goodwin. But if it comes down to those two players, Goodwin clearly holds more value in the long-term and is worth hanging onto.
Ryan Zimmerman is among one of the last missing pieces for the Washington Nationals. It will not only be a huge impact on the field but having his veteran presence in the dugout is invaluable.