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The silent bulldog of the Nats’ rotation

Feb 28, 2012, 11:00 AM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann pitches live batting practice during yesterday's workout.

VIERA, Fla. — For all the attention lavished upon Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Chien-Ming Wang over the winter and so far this spring, there's one projected member of the Nationals rotation who always seems to get lost in the shuffle.

Which is a real shame, because Jordan Zimmermann might very well prove to have the best 2012 of any of them.

Now a full 2 1/2 years removed from Tommy John surgery, Zimmermann is finally free to pitch without any shackles holding him back. The Nationals will monitor him just like they would any young starter, but they fully expect him to approach (if not surpass) 200 innings this season and become a stalwart in one of baseball's best rotations.

"He's very focused," manager Davey Johnson said. "But he's in a good frame of mind. Strong as a bull."

Zimmermann doesn't draw as much attention as his rotation mates in part because of his low-key personality. He's a man of very few words,Read more ยป

  1. jeeves - Feb 28, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Love the background story, Mark. And I think Zimm will be every bit as valuable as Greinke–even up.

  2. baseballswami - Feb 28, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Jordan has never been lost in the shuffle among those who truly follow the Nats. He has long been a favorite of mine and in general, Nats fans seem to like and respect him. Zim, ( the other one, the rich one), said nice things about him on espn yesterday. Silent bulldog? I think silent assassin. Hoping to see a really productive season from Jordan. Great guy.

  3. Tim - Feb 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    (Cue music)I'm so excited and I just can't hide it….

  4. Wally - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    This guy is my favorite SP. Stras is the best one, but JZimm has always been my favorite. Back in the dark days, he was the first one to make me think that maybe there was something to The Plan.It would be great to see him get the Opening Day nod this year, as a reward for last year and because he'll probably not get another chance while SS is here. He is also a good extension candidate.

  5. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Oh, so we have Jimbo to thank for Zimm'nn.Well, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.

  6. Rabbit - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Rizzo led Jimbo to the acorn.

  7. MicheleS - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Tim.. if that song goes through my head all day.. I will find you… ;-)It's great that he is our silent assassin, there are a lot of people (MLB Analysts and Kruk) that agree he will be our best pitcher this year. I would really love to see him get some run support!

  8. sjm308 - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Wally – agree with you 100% about opening day for both reasons (reward for last year and that because of SS he will not get another chance). Also think that this year it might be wise to let SS miss the entire Cubs series. We might have escaped the cold but the mid-west did not. I realize these guys don't want to be babied, coming off an injury, but I will be holding my breath for the first couple starts.Go Nats!

  9. Davey in Russian Accent - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Jordan Zimmermann, strong as bull!

  10. NationalsProspects.com - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Agree with everything but the second word of the headline.

  11. jcj5y - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    These stories of Rizzo's scouting acumen are always fun to hear. The decision to hire Rizzo as GM, and Rizzo's decision to load up on well-respected scouting and development personnel, is proving to be the turning point in this history of this organization.Just at the time when any market efficiencies from stat-based player analysis were starting to disappear, Rizzo was able to exploit the draft and the minor league development path to find a lot of value that other teams were missing. I mean, the Nats just traded a 41st round pick (Peacock), a 10th round pick (Milone), and two 4th round picks (Norris and Cole) for a team-controlled lefty starter with a sub-3.50 ERA. That is the definition of good scouting and development.

  12. Joe S. - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Agree with jcj5y, but I wouldn't call Cole an example of good scouting. Everybody knew that Cole was a potential star; the question was whether he was signable. The Nats were aggressive enough to draft player whom nobody else would have tried hard enough to sign up. This isn't good scouting; this is good use of funds, and good negotiating. (Good, of course, is good.)

  13. Mongo - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Zimbo strong, like bull.Davey in Russian Accent said… Jordan Zimmermann, strong as bull! February 28, 2012 7:31 AM

  14. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    I'll be right beside you, MicheleS. Dang, too late.MicheleS said… Tim.. if that song goes through my head all day.. I will find you… ;-)

  15. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Stop me if you've seen this one before, but there's a nice video interview with Ramos over on the CSN site.

  16. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    (You may have to scroll down on the page when you get there.)

  17. Andrew L. - Feb 28, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Jordan Zimmermann won't get the media attention that Stephen Strasburg garners but this kid is special.His 1st starts in the Majors were amazing. On April 20, 2009 he beat the Braves then on April 26 he gave David Wright a silver sombrero he will never forget—3 1/2 at-bats and struck him out looking the 1st time and then twice swinging. The 1/2 at-bat was a do-over on a 3rd out caught stealing so Wright got the do-over the next inning.In June of 2009, in interleague JZim mowed through Tampa, Toronto, and Boston and in each game only gave up 1 Earned. Joe Maddon said JZim had one of the best curve balls his players had ever seen. In the Boston game, JZim bested John Smoltz. Jordan Zimmermann is still a well kept secret, a silent assassin!

  18. sjm308 - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Wait, am I on the right blog? Praise for Rizzo? and additional praise for management in spending money? ( and you are exactly right Joe S). Where are the anons? what happened to my site? Help!I am going down and have a glass of more than half full orange juice.Go Nats!!

  19. jcj5y - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    On Cole, as I recall, he was highly touted heading into the season, then struggled (relatively speaking) in his last year of high school ball–velocity fluctuated, lost command, etc. He dropped to the Nats not just because he was a tough sign, but because some people were down on him. So while I agree that the biggest piece of the puzzle was spending the money, I think the number of teams willing to spend what Cole wanted to get had dropped.

  20. Jenn Jenson - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I love everything about Jordan but one thing: He has a few too many letters in his name for a ladies-size customized jersey. On mine, the letters run down either side of my jersey, to my waist. I've considered buying a new jersey with just ZNN, but that's a little pricey. Maybe I'll make it a shirsey for my 2nd clothing tribute …

  21. Cease the Opportunity - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    sjm308 said…Come on sjm308, Anon/Anon Trolls make it fun. All good novels have an antagonist and good conflict…

  22. Section 222 - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    The other Z-man has been for real since his first start in the bigs — Apr. 20, 2009. The game didn't start until 9:15 pm after a long rain delay. A few thousand fans stuck it out, and many gathered behind the first base dugout. We were treated to a gem — 6 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 3 Ks. The Nats won the game 3-2 on an RBI single by Jesus Flores in the bottom of the 6th, giving JZ his first major league win.I even bought the T-shirt last year: "This. Is. ZNN." (Intoned in a growly James Earl Jones voice).

  23. Brian - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    I remember the first time I saw Zimmermann pitch. I went to Potomac to watch a Shawn Hill rehab start and came away impressed with the guy who took over after Hill reached his pitch limit (that guy being Zimmermann)

  24. DaveB - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Hey sjm308,Try the Kool-Aid instead. ;)

  25. Theophilus - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Re: trollsIn the original, trolls get butted into the river. No loss.

  26. Gonat - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    The guy has 4 "Plus" pitches and working on his 5th that split finger change. He is the type of pitcher to give you near 'no hit' stuff when everything is working.If the Nats can get him some run support, this is a 18+ game winner!

  27. bdrube - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    @Section 222 – I was there for that game (and as a result am one of the few who can claim to have seen both Strasburg and Z-nn's first MLB starts in person). It was one of the few highlights of an otherwise dismal season.

  28. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    I love the way Bowden gets so little credit for any success for this club, yet blame can get heaped on him with abandon. Not saying he does not deserve a lot of blame, but all of it all of the time? And Rizzo is seemingly made of telflon. He seemingly never made a bad call, his ideas were always winners and if only he had been the GM things would be different, so very different. Not sure that it's so cut and dry.

  29. Cease the Opportunity - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Theophilus said… Re: trolls In the original, trolls get butted into the river. No loss.Didn't say I didn't like a good ending… :P)

  30. D'Gourds - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    I don't understand…Bowden "sided with" Rizzo as being the head of the draft, but they didn't pick his guy until their 4th pick while his cohorts picked three stiffs (Well, maybe Detweiller is okay, although the Giants picked up Bumgardner after him, but I digress). THANK GOD BOWDEN IS GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. nicefellow31 - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    The silent bulldog. I like that. This is going to be a great season. One thing that bothers me though, is with the wins, we are going to see a lot of "bandwagon" fans. I wish there was a way that us "veterans" could be recognized for keeping the faith during the dark days.

  32. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    nicefellow: previously, I had suggested that there be a series of questions that could be administered as an informal test to separate "veterans" from "rookies" in that regard. The answers would relate to players/events in the "old days" and only Day One fans would know the answers. :-)

  33. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    That said, I'll welcome any and all bandwagon fans, as long as they don't try to take my seat. :-)

  34. Mark'd - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Great read. Thanks Mark. JZim is probably the most under-rated guy on the Nats. Good to be reminded.

  35. Bill Hicks - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    @D'Gourds – you are absolutely right. It sounds like if it hadn't been for Rizzo, the 2007 draft would have been as big a disaster as 2006.

  36. Rizzo_WTF - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Rizzo got lucky, how abgout a where are they now segment featuring Rizzo draft picks in Arizona, including Garrett Mock and Matt Chico!

  37. LoveDaNats - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    @natsfan1a"That said, I'll welcome any and all bandwagon fans, as long as they don't try to take my seat. :-)"OR make the line so long I don't get my boardwalk fries.

  38. sjm308 - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Speaking of drinks – I am wondering if Sunshine Bobby is going to mix up a new drink for occasions like our 6 & 8 game winning streaks – I think we all appreciated the maalox and bourbon when we had Nyger throwing his glove or FLop giving up on a play but we need a new positive drink for this year.

  39. NatsLady - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Tweet from Kilgore —LOLOLOLOLJohn Lannan's like, "Guys, over here. 3.70 last year. Remember me? Guys?" @NationalsPR The Fantastic Four. #Nationals http://twitpic.com/8psqko

  40. Section 222 - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    @bdrube — Let's start a Nats Superstars MLB Debut club! And let's make sure to be there for Harper's first game as well. The only question is whether we count Zim's first MLB at bat, as a pinch-hitter on Sept. 1, 2005, or his first major league start on Sept. 7, 2005, when he played shortstop.

  41. Unkyd - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Mebbe just a little potato juice, in the Kool-Aid?

  42. MicheleS - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Link to Nats PR Twitter page. Lots of Pics going up.It's Photo Day And Nats Lady.. there are some shots on Nats Equirer of Clipp/Store at Daytona

  43. Section 222 - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    nicefellow and 1a — I've been waiting for there to be a Nats bandwagon for seven long years. Now if only Tony Kornheiser will write about it. Oh wait, he doesn't write anymore does he? I'm getting old.

  44. MicheleS - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    And just remember…anyone that we have on the bandwagon takes the place of a Phillies Fan at Nats Park.. So the More the Merrier!!!

  45. D'Gourds - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Rizzo_WTF–I don't think the book has been written on Rizzo yet. He's made both good (Zimmermann, Morse) and bad (Nyjer Morgan) moves. The Gio Gonzales for our whole minor league pithing system might blow up in his face. But I DO know Bowden was terrible. What a lousy GM with no long term vision. He stunk.

  46. Steve M. - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    "I'm actually getting a couple sentences per conversation out of him," Johnson cracked last week.I may have told this story before. A few years ago I was invited to golf with Andrew L. who was taking out some Nats and Jordan Zimmermann was one of them.JZ is a very quiet, almost shy person. At first impression you may get the wrong impression because he isn't outgoing and a man of very few words. After meeting him a few times, I also got a full sentence out of him. If you ask him a question, he will answer you. Other players told me his comfort zone is the dugout with the other players.Davey isn't exagerating.

  47. Steve M. - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Jordan Zimmermann should reach greatness on his own. He has an intensity level like Strasburg, Clemens, Verlander.I think as Jordan gets more confidence and throws some more purpose pitches and intimidates a little more he may draw some more comparisons to some of the great ones.When he is in the zone, he is an Ace. To get to be considered in the tops of the pitchers he will need to go a little deeper into games.I have agreed with many that He earned the Opening Day call not what Strasburg did for a handful of starts. I'm surprised Rizzo/Davey don't see it that way.

  48. SayNoToClint - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    @LoveDaNats, natsfan1a"That said, I'll welcome any and all bandwagon fans, as long as they don't try to take my seat. :-)OR make the line so long I don't get my boardwalk fries."Or walk up and down the aisles during at-bats. Or shout "Oh!" during the national anthem.The list goes on…

  49. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Give Bowden credit for doing that one thing right: siding with Rizzo, even when Jimbo himself didn't agree with the assessment. My next question: what happened to the guys who were adamant Znn was 77th (or whatever) round pick, when Rizzo was, in fact, selling Znn a little short? Are *they* still making decisions up there? Or did Rizzo unload them all on his first day?

  50. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Maybe they were extras in the Moneyball flick? :-)

  51. NatsBrat - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Thanks for the comments on Mark's great article on JZim. OK…it's agreed….The T-shirt will read: BullZim

  52. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Maybe Bull Zim'nn as a tribute to the movie? Eh, maybe not.

  53. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Maybe "Bulldog Zimmermann"

  54. NatsNut - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    To clarify, Zimmermann was taken in Round 2 of the 2007 draft. We got him using the Cubs' 3rd pick that we got for losing Soriano. (Smoker was the compensation pick). I only remember this because it was the first time I learned stuff about the MLB draft.

  55. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Although Orel Hershiser was "Bulldog" already. Maybe they could use that. Needs to be shorter than "Orel Jr.", though. Maybe "Anel Zimmermann."

  56. NatsNut - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    My favorite veteran fan test question: What player's "girlfriend" was robbed after cashing his paycheck at a check cashing store in the wee hours of the morning?LOL

  57. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    I've considered buying a new jersey with just ZNN, but that's a little pricey. Maybe I'll make it a shirsey for my 2nd clothing tribute … Sheesh you'd think she'd be happy enough with her Cole Kimball jersey … now she want JZimmnn too? Where do you wear them all? To work? ~laughing~

  58. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Thankfully, Rizzo has "fixed" that drafting problem with Roy Clark, et al. And it appears to be producing results quickly … worth bumping Rizzo to president and making Clark GM? Yes.

  59. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    John Lannan's like, "Guys, over here. 3.70 last year. Remember me? Guys?"With the proper weighted adjustments his tRA was 5.03. Among the absolute worst. Most of those who posted similar stats are now gone.

  60. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Cease the Opportunity said:Re: trollsIn the original, trolls get butted into the river. No loss.Didn't say I didn't like a good ending… :P)With a handle like that it sure sounds like some gleeful Oriole fan who wants them to lose? In other words troll? Or it could a careless mistake … and this one case I am with the spelling and grammar NAZI's:I think you mean SEIZE right? I hope?

  61. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Rizzo_WTF said… Rizzo got lucky, how abgout a where are they now segment featuring Rizzo draft picks in Arizona, including Garrett Mock and Matt Chico!No one is perfect so I guess that's why he hired Roy Clark who used to do the same for the Tomahawk choppers. He drafted Jason Heyward.

  62. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    ooh ooh, pick me! Jose Guillen.NatsNut said… My favorite veteran fan test question: What player's "girlfriend" was robbed after cashing his paycheck at a check cashing store in the wee hours of the morning? LOL February 28, 2012 12:50 PM

  63. Nationals Anthems - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Nats Veteran Fan Test:Whom did the Nationals get in return from the Brewers for Tomo Okha, and what freak accident happened to him one month later?

  64. Scooter - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    I dunno, was that Spivey? He hurt his hand in BP or something. Ball bounced back at him off the cage?

  65. Jenn Jenson - Feb 28, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    Dear Anon,A girl cannot wear the same Natswear to every game. One must honor both starting pitchers and relievers. (And catchers, of course.) A variety of clothing weights (shirsy, jersey, sweatshirt) is also needed to be comfortable regardless of the gameday temperature. :)

  66. Nationals Anthems - Feb 29, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    @scooter – Winner winner chicken dinner.

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