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Zimmermann sharp, Clippard improving

Mar 25, 2011, 2:09 AM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann tossed five shutout innings, striking out six.

LAKELAND, Fla. — Perhaps the two biggest things to take out of the Nationals' 5-2 victory over the Tigers tonight were Jordan Zimmermann's continued dominance and Tyler Clippard's continued improvement. Each was a welcome sight for a Nats club that really needs both of these right-handers to be in top form as soon as the bell rings next week.

Let's start with Zimmermann, who didn't surrender a run for the fourth time in five starts this spring. This outing wasn't quite as dominant as some of his previous ones, but it may actually have been more impressive because he pitched out of several tight jams against a really tough lineup.

In three consecutive innings, Zimmermann put two men on base, and each time he came through to escape without suffering any damage. With two on and two out in the second, he struck out Alex Avila looking at a 3-2 slider. With two on and one out in the third, he struck out Magglio Ordonez looking and then got Miguel Cabrera to ground out. And with two on and nobody out in the fourth, he got Jhonny Peralta to hit a comebacker, then struck out Avila and Brandon Inge on 94 mph fastballs.

"That's a good lineup he's facing there," Jim Riggleman said, later adding: "The hitters he was facing, he made some really good pitchesRead more »

  1. Golfersal - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    Sorry to post this that has nothing to do with the Nats, but for those that didn't get to see on MLB.Com the game, it was done by the Tiger TV team. They had the most remarkable technology or "gimick" I have ever seen in a while, when they had the umpire were on his helmet a small camera. The pictures that we got were priceless and gave us the point of view of the batter and catcher.Mark I hope you can ask someone that does TV for the Nats if this camera will be utilized, it's the best new thing that I have seen in a long time.

  2. Golfersal - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    Oh, one last thing Nats related.Mark, you should go to every game, what since you got off the plane they have won every game, when you took the week off they lost every game.So be sure to show up for every game starting next week.

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Golfersal…. drove over to Lakeland to catch the game (good to see you again Another_Sam and Tysons Dave) but DVR'd the game so I could replay when I got home…… All I can say is …. WOW!!! We got to get us one of those things…. as an ex catcher, it damn near brought tears to my eyes to have that view of a ball game again….. even if it was brought to us by "Fat" Joe West who actually looks like he's lost about 30 lbs. and not that fatanymore.

  4. Another_Sam - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Good to see you, NatsJack. My week here gave me hope for the season. For me the encouraging sign was a bit of life and jut a glimmer of depth from the pitching staff.. I hope it lasts.There's the boarding call. Later, guys.

  5. Doc - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    @ NatsJack: Thanks for all your ST feedback on the Nats and their games!Most of Joe West's fat surrounds his brain, and that he'll never lose–sometimes it affects his vision!

  6. joemktg - Mar 25, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Feel terrible for Nyjer: 3 Ks in front of scouts.

  7. Andrew - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    FOX had mask-cam before in the catchers mask and this Ump-cam was also cool as Country Joe sets up at an angle which may be closer to what the batter sees.I always marveled at different seats in the ballpark that give you those special views and there is nothing like sitting directly behind homeplate at ground view to see Jordan Zimmermann's ball break and Strasburg's ball literally fall off the table.

  8. Feel Wood - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    The umpire helmet camera is apparently a Fox thing they were trying out. (Note that the Tigers local broadcasts are a Fox Sports Net production.) From what they said at the beginning of the broadcast, it sounds like something they may use on the Fox Game of the Week broadcasts at times. Doubtful that it will show up on MASN, at least this season anyway.

  9. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    For my part, there were several very encouraging elements to last nites game. J-Zimm and T-Clip, Werth batting 2nd and the bomb, Mikey Morse, Nyjer whiffing 3 times but the most encouraging happened in the first inning.Miguel Cabrera grounds deep in the hole to shortstop, Desmond gloves it,….drops it…. picks it up and makes normal throw to first getting Cabrera by a half step.Previous efforts would have been a panicked throw some where in the 5th row but this time he actually knew who was running and how much time he had. A glimmer of hope…..

  10. NatinBeantown - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    JZ's inning count: 134 in 2008 (MiLB), 100 in 2009 (combined), 70.2 in 2010 (combined). I can't see any scenario where he throws more than 150 innings this year, but how are they limited? Will he come out in the 5th or 6th (or after 90 pitches) most nights regardless of performance? Will they let him go all out, but shut him down after 20-25 starts or so? Or will they use off days to space out his starts to try to keep him around as deep as possible into the season? What's the most normal path here?

  11. Anonymous8 - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    "Miguel Cabrera grounds deep in the hole to shortstop, Desmond gloves it,….drops it…. picks it up and makes normal throw to first getting Cabrera by a half step."Good point. Last year he would have rushed and deposited it in the seats for a throwing error. Even if Cabrera was safe, it is better then an errant throw that would put the batter on 2nd base.

  12. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    NatinBeantown…. They will limit his # of starts. 22 starts at 7 innings equals 154 innings. That would be a very good season this year for J-Zimm.

  13. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Anonymous8…. last season!?!? How about last week!

  14. Anonymous8 - Mar 25, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    "NatsJack in Florida said… For my part, there were several very encouraging elements to last nites game. J-Zimm and T-Clip, Werth batting 2nd and the bomb, Mikey Morse"To hear the Tigers announcers gushing about how impressive JZim was confirms what we all witnessed on April 20 2009 and so many of his games after that. Fastball with movement especially the riding 4 seam, decent slider, and killer curve, and a good change up. A starting pitcher that throws mid-90's with movement and 3 other + pitches is a legit pitcher.There is a recovering TJ pitcher named Strasburg who is on almost an exact recovery schedule who also has to be encouraged watching his mentor pitch like that.Encouraging that Clippard made it through 2 innings but where I find Clippard most effective is only 1 inning of work. When he gave up that long double which looked like a sure HR in his 2nd inning I did the "uh oh" but to his credit, Clippard shut them down. He was facing real Major Leaguers too. No AAA guys in that batting order at that point.

  15. Anonymous8 - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    "NatsJack in Florida said… Anonymous8…. last season!?!? How about last week! March 25, 2011 8:51 AM"Baseball is a thinking man's game, and a Coach once said "Don't make the same mistake twice".That is a good thought which is Desi's dilemna. He probably made 1/4 of his errors on over-aggressive plays where you either eat the ball or do as you described last night which is make a good throw and if you get him great but don't let the batter advance to 2nd on an errant throw which segues to Nyjer Morgan who is the guy who has never learned from his mental errors and that is where the problem lies with these types of players. "Learn and prosper"

  16. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Anonymous8….. I totally agree. Desmond is 25 years old while Morgan will be 31 next month. Still hope for Ian…. absoulutely none for Morgan.

  17. Theophilus - Mar 25, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Re: Zimmermann — probably I haven't been watching the last couple of years but last night I took particular note of his quads. Man, they're huge (compared to the rest of his frame). With Nolan Ryan as the Olympic standard, this guy could have a long career.

  18. Jerry and George - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    "Re: Zimmermann — probably I haven't been watching the last couple of years but last night I took particular note of his quads."Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  19. Anonymous - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Quick question – if Coffey is dropped, are the Nats still on the hook for his contract? Or is there some out clause if he doesn't make the team? What if another team picks him up?

  20. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    If the Nats release Coffey, they're responsible for his salary. Only way they don't have to pay him is if another team trades for him or claims him off waivers.

  21. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Theophilus…. As an ex-catcher and quasi pitching coach, the first thing I look for in a power arm is that strong foundation. I saw that in Jordan 3 years ago. Think about Ryan, Clemens (before HGH and roids), Halladay, Josh Johnson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and our own Strasburg. That's what makes Lincecum so unique and in my estimation, career limiting.

  22. Mark'd - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Theophilus, glad you pointed that out as I observed the same thing from the torso to his legs which is similar in build to Roger Clemens but narrower in the upper body. I remember Billy Wagner who is much smaller in size says he got his velocity from the push in his legs and technique and did a lot of leg presses to build up his leg muscles.

  23. JD - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Nats Jack, Zimm is turning 25 this May. Why do you think his innings should be limited to about 150? Is it because of the TJ surgery? Generally speaking you have to 'baby' the young pitchers until they turn 25 (until the shoulder joints are fully developed).

  24. Steve M. - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    NatsJack/Theo/Mark'd – All great observations and spot on NatsJack with Lincecum. I thought Lincecum had bit the dust last year as he was shaky during the regular season and then a stud in the Post-season so not sure if he can make it for the long haul but he proved me wrong last year when it mattered and hoping Ross Detwiler proves me wrong as he has that narrow frame too.

  25. NatinBeantown - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    JD, I think the year 25 benchmark is if someone has slowly built their annual innings over time. The TJ surgery interrupted that process for Zim. I think the limiting factor for him now is not to take a leap of more than 30-40 innings than his previous high in '08.

  26. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    JD… It's not just age. You have to look at his history. 2008 he threw 134 innings total and 2009 he threw 91 innings. Last season he was very limited.To a certain degree, I'm not a believer in innings limits, being old school, but todays thinking has pitchers early in their career increasing aproximately 20% per year. That would put Jordan at the 150 – 160 inning limit this year. Look for Strasburg to be limited next season to the 130 – 150 inning amount.

  27. Steve M. - Mar 25, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    http://www.nationalsenquirer.com/2011/03/jordan-zimmermann-fastball-radar-gun-spring.htmlGood piece on JZim's fastball. Did he really hit 98mph? Certainly was 95mph.Any input from those who were there?When I saw first saw JZim pitch in person in Spring of 2009, I honestly was giddy as I started telling people that the Nats had an Ace. When I spoke to Jordan after a game he had to be one of the most shy and humble ballplayers I have ever met (until meeting Strasburg) at that point in time.I am getting giddy again and cautiously optimistic. If you watch the Fantasy Values he is gaining National recognition so others are catching on too.

  28. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    From Adam Kilgore…Jordan Zimmermann dominated. Zimmermann’s penultimate start of the spring may have been his best. He needed 90 pitches in five scoreless innings, but his stuff was as sharp as its been. He allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six, firing fastballs that sat at 94 mph and reached 96. His curveball, he said, was not all that crisp, but his slider felt great. “The fastball, I felt like I could throw it wherever I wanted to all night,” Zimmermann said. “That was the best control I’ve had with that all spring. Curveball was a little off. But I threw a lot more sliders. It’s either one’s good. I can’t have them both on the same night, it seems.”Tonight, the fastball seemed good enough. So he says 94 to 96MPH

  29. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Um, did you guys not read what I wrote within this article last night?…Zimmermann was especially pleased with his fastball command, which was spot-on, to go along with impressive velocity that consistently hovered around 93-94 mph and topped out at 96 mph.

  30. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    The stadium gun topped out one pitch at 96 but everything else was 93-94 consistently. The slider was wicked at a consistent 88.

  31. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    We don't make this stuff up, do we Mark?

  32. A DC Wonk - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    "NatsJack in Florida said… NatinBeantown…. They will limit his # of starts. 22 starts at 7 innings equals 154 innings. That would be a very good season this year for J-Zimm."He'll be shut down right in time for Strasburg to take his slot, eh? ;-)(And then next year, hopefully, we'll have both of them?!)

  33. A DC Wonk - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    NatsJack, regarding quads, wrote:"Think about Ryan, Clemens …"Mark'd said… "I remember Billy Wagner who is much smaller in size says he got his velocity from the push in his legs…"Yep — and Nolan Ryan said he learned it from Tom Seaver, the master at pushing off hard with his legs. (Anybody remember that he used to have dirt on his left knee from pushing off so hard with such a long stride?)(I'm an old Mets fan from the 1960's. I'm intimately familiar with consecutive 100+ loss seasons as well as WS victories).

  34. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    A DC Wonk…. I was going to mention that but Stras could be ready as early as mid-late August which could get them to overlap a start or two.And as for Seaver, I wasn't sure most of this crowd went back that far. I could have even mentioned Drysdale, Gibson, Duren and Feller (although I never saw Feller pitch, I did meet the man during his minor league barnstorming days after his retirement).

  35. Steve M. - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said… Um, did you guys not read what I wrote within this article last night?…Zimmermann was especially pleased with his fastball command, which was spot-on, to go along with impressive velocity that consistently hovered around 93-94 mph and topped out at 96 mph. March 25, 2011 11:09 AM I read it but was more looking for if 98mph was accurate and I saw 95mph on the broadcast quite a bit but know the stadium speed gun had him lower.No biggie as I enjoyed this and hoped the FOX radar reading was more accurate!

  36. Feel Wood - Mar 25, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    "He'll be shut down right in time for Strasburg to take his slot, eh? ;-)"No. But Detwiler and/or Maya should be available to step in. Keep in mind that Strasburg's surgery was about a month later in the season than Zimmermann's was the year before. So his recovery schedule will be a month (at best) behind Zimmermann's as well. And Zimmermann took the minimum time, no guarantee that Strasburg will too.

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