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VIDEO: Is Zimmermann MLB’s best pitcher?

May 10, 2013, 2:23 PM EDT

Jordan Zimmermann has been the Nats most consistent pitcher dating back to last season, but this year he looks even better, especially considering the inconsistent starts of Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. His numbers are up at the top of the league in almost every category, so is it time to start considering Zimmermann as one of the game’s best? Mark, Jim Duquette, and Rob Carlin debated this topic on last night’s Baseball Show.

Also, yesterday I caught up with pitcher Ross Detwiler to talk about the Capitals and the NHL playoffs:

Ross Detwiler talks Caps vs. Rangers

  1. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    For the people who are really up on Sabremetrics, is there a way to compare JZim vs the other top pitchers based on the quality of the team you pitch against?JZim absolutely shut down the hottest offensive team in the Tigers and did a great job against the Braves and we all know the Reds can put together a few runs and he shut them down.JZim has been this team's stopper and workhorse and has been able to win a few games with very little run support.

  2. phil dunton - May 10, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    "Zimmermann baseballs best pitcher"? Statements like this are usually the kiss of death. The only thing more deadly is having his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated! Yes, he's been great but it is just six games. Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and a few others have been pitching this good for several seasons.

  3. Eric - May 10, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    "Statements like this are usually the kiss of death."On the upside, it was already being kicked around before I think even his 1-hitter against Cincy, and certainly before his outting against the Tigers. He seems utterly unflappable…like there's nothing going on in the world but the baseball and the catcher's mitt.

  4. Ivan Tuski - May 10, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    To answer the headline question-Yes

  5. JD - May 10, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    JZimm is definitely in the conversation and he has been a joy to watch. Based on Fangraphs stats his year so far places him 3rd on the NL pitching tanks behind Matt Harvey and Adam Wainright. The 2 areas of concern are: 1) BABIP is .209 and that's not sustainable no matter how much weak contact is induced. 2) K to to BB ratio is 6 to 2 which is good but not great.

  6. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    If talk like this is the kiss of death then in the other cities where they are having the same discussions about Matt Harvey in NY, Corbin in AZ, Cingrani in Cincy, Hudson in ATL, and the usual of King Felix in Seattle, Kershaw in LA, Westbrook/Miller in StL and Verlander everywhere as they all better watch out.The season is more than 20% over so it is a time when you can finally talk about large enough sample sizes plus JZim is at his best in the month of June where he has had a career 1.73 ERA for June. JZim also pitches slightly better on the road.While you can expect many of the other pitchers to fall off as their arm gets more wear on it, JZim should continue to improve into mid-summer.The only thing that Davey and McCatty need to stay on top of is as he gets into mid-August and headed towards the playoffs as they may want to be more cautious with loading up the innings.

  7. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    JD, most likely his BABIP will go up some however as you watch his games he has looked unlucky with all the bats he has sawed off that have found seeing eye hits. Very few balls are being put into play with solid contact and thats a great sign for him.His K to to BB ratio is what defines him and I guess you don't grasp that he is a pitch to contact pitcher hence low K rate.The critics always said that Jordan Z wasn't a great pitcher because he couldn't go deep into games and so far he has silenced the critics.If strikeouts turn you on JD, then watch reruns of Roger Clemens games.

  8. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Matt Harvey #1 in BABIP at .182 JD, can that continue?JD's BABIP stats

  9. Theophilus T. S. - May 10, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Z'mann was almost this good last season until somewhere in August. So you have to worry about that repeating itself. This year, however, he has shown — on most occasions — the ability to get to the seventh inning and beyond. I conclude that last year was an exhibition of post-TJ fatigue and that, overall, he is much stronger this year and will be able to maintain something like this level of performance through the stretch run — if they're in the stretch, which will depend on a couple of pitchers who are underachieving as much as Z'mann is surprising.

  10. EmDash - May 10, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    FIP is a useful stat, but it seems like some pitchers can consistently maintain a lower-than-average BABIP by inducing weak contact and so maintain an ERA much lower than their FIP says it should be. Matt Cain was like that for a long time, and Zimmermann may be similar.It's likely to be higher than .209, of course, but .250 or so is reasonable enough and well lower than for the average pitcher.

  11. Joe Seamhead - May 10, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Joe Seamhead - May 10, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    K's are neither overrated, nor under rated to me. We all like it when our guy can dig down and punch out a Joey, a Prince, or a Ryan Howard. What I am liking as this staff is coming alive is that they are not afraid to pitch to any of them, and they're not foolish by being unafraid. Sure, there will be times when our guys will pitch around somebody, and on a rare occasion I can see even see them issuing an IBB, but those instances will be few and far between. Our staff really isn't into backing down from any of them, and Johnson hates giving up free bases, as he was very close to calling for in the 9th yesterday.GYFNG!!!

  13. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    No, Verlander, feix, Kershaw, Wainwright among others are ahead of him. JZ is on a roll right now but other pitchers have done it for longer and are doing it right now so let's not get ahead of ourselves.

  14. Eric - May 10, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    You're doing great work here, Harpo, keeping egos in check and running the opposition into the ground.You're getting the attention of all the right people in this organization. Keep it up!

  15. bowdenball - May 10, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    I love JZimm but he's not even top five right now.VerlanderDarvishF. HernandezWainwrightHarvey BuchholzAll are having a better year so far than JZimm. And if you had a must-win game tomorrow you'd probably pick all of them except for maybe Buchholz ahead of JZimm.Saying that someone is one of the top ten pitchers in the game right now is no insult. No reason to take it too far.

  16. Eric - May 10, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    "other pitchers have done it for longer and are doing it right now so let's not get ahead of ourselves."I agree it's too soon to call him best in the MLB. I think the season needs to be over or much closer to it before that's reasonable; however, this is still a refreshing case of hype building due to actual performance, not expected performance.

  17. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    "Joe Seamhead said… K's are neither overrated, nor under rated to me."K's are greatly under rated when you must have one. An example, Gio with the bases loaded and no outs had to have some K's and he struck out 2 batters in a row and then was able to work a grounder on a 3-2 pitch for the 3rd out.In those situations, K's were great. In most other situations, an out is an out for a pitcher and doubleplays are a pitcher's best weapon!

  18. JD - May 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Harpo, Harvey's BABIP is not sustainable in fact as much as I like him I predict that at the end of the year he won't be in the conversation as one of the the elite pitchers this year. I think that 'pitch to contact' is nonsense. I think you pitch to avoid contact which in turn also produces weak contact. Emdash, I agree that .250 is in the BABIP ballpark but in going from .209 to .250 JZimm will give up more runs than he's been giving up unless his strike out rates go up at the same time.

  19. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Can some of you get over yourselves? This is the best pitcher at this point in time for THIS SEASON and the answer is Matt Harvey by almost any stat Peric can come up with, this isn't a popularity contest like some of you who want to count last year or the year before or who has the best TV commercials or the guy leading the league in strikeouts.

  20. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    "JD said… Harpo,I think that 'pitch to contact' is nonsense. I think you pitch to avoid contact which in turn also produces weak contact."JD, another know-it-all expert who hates Steve McCatty's philosophies on pitching which has been embraced by Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo.This is one of Sandy Koufax's greatest quotes "I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it."I don't know if Jordan Z has embraced Koufax's quote or even knows he ever said it but that's what I see as part of Jordan Z's transformation to being a very good pitcher. He could certainly be a high K pitcher if he wanted to. In where it counts the most, Koufax has the lowest ERA in postseason history.

  21. Eric - May 10, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    So, Harper of Nationals Baseball blog recently broke down JZinn's patterns. Here's his line for Ks and BBs per 9:K/9, BB/9Career 7.30 / 2.07Last Year : 7.04 / 1.98This year : 6.00 / 1.59It's interesting to me that these numbers have trended down together. Will either or both rise again? Has he gotten more accurate or less fancy?Anyway, I recommend reading the post. He also gets into how often Zinn uses his fastball vs. his curve or slider as a strikeout pitch. The former is on the rise, the latter two are on the fall.Also, I think I'm going to start calling JZinn "Djinn," which is the root of the word "Genie."

  22. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    I am very skeptical about using 7 starts to name someone as the best starter. Out of all the lineups Harvey has faced, I think Dodgers' lineup was toughest and he gave up 3 runs in 6 innings. let's see how he does against tougher lineups.

  23. JD - May 10, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Harpo, Sandy Koufax averaged 9.3 K's per game for his career. You have another example you want to use?

  24. Alphabet Soup Erik - May 10, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Love Zimmermann because he is such a bulldog. That being said, he is definitely not the best pitcher in baseball. I love the way he goes after people and doesn't beat himself, but his fastball is awfully straight, and his stuff just isn't as nasty as some others. Would still take him on the bump any day of the week.

  25. JD - May 10, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    'JD, another know-it-all expert who hates Steve McCatty's philosophies on pitching which has been embraced by Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo.'How many soft tossers has Rizzo drafted or signed?It seems to me that the entire starting rotation is comprised of strikeout pitchers.

  26. A DC Wonk - May 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    JZimm is definitely in the conversation and he has been a joy to watch. Based on Fangraphs stats his year so far places him 3rd on the NL pitching tanks behind Matt Harvey and Adam Wainright.The 2 areas of concern are:1) BABIP is .209 and that's not sustainable no matter how much weak contact is induced.As noted elsewhere — Harvey's is .189But — get this — Wainright's is .355! (with a BAA of .272). I guess he has enough K's and almost zero BB's, so that it doesn't matter.But, yowza, .355 is high! League average is .312Can someone 'splain _that_ one to me?

  27. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    "JD said… Harpo,Sandy Koufax averaged 9.3 K's per game for his career. You have another example you want to use? "Are you really that thick? He changed his philosophy in 1963. 9.3 is a career average where he had several seasons of 10+ K's per season average. In 1963 and beyond he put together his best seasons of his career and as he dropped K's to 8.9, it was also his best career K/BB of 5.28 in his career to that point as Koufax was always pitching to the corners like Gio and was giving up too many walks. He changed his approach and trusted his stuff and attacked the zones and got the K's. His career K/BB was 2.93. In 1958 Koufax gave up 105 walks vs 131 strikeouts.

  28. NatsLady - May 10, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Today's post looks at Rizzo's offseason moves now that we are more than a month into the season. Comments appreciated!Checking up on Mike Rizzohttp://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/05/checking-up.html

  29. A DC Wonk - May 10, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    He changed his approach and trusted his stuff and attacked the zones and got the K's.I think what he changed was that he dialed back his fastfall. When he started throwing it at 95% effort (at around age 27), he found his control.Same with Randy Johnson.And, we hope: same with HRod.

  30. NatsJack in Florida - May 10, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    You got it right Wonk. In his last 4 seasons, Koufax averaged 9.2 K's per inning. What really improved was his K to walk ratio. Walks decreased but the K's remained basically the same.

  31. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    NatsJack, thanks for agreeing with me.

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    NatsJack, are you agreeing with him?

  33. NatsJack in Florida - May 10, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    If you mean Wonk, yes.

  34. A DC Wonk - May 10, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Thanks, NJ!

  35. NatsLady - May 10, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Wonk, the answer to your question is the Cards don't have a good infield. Pete F'ing Kozma is not a great fielder and Descalso is worse, in particular. Matt Carpenter isn't hopeless, but they've been using him at 3B and in the OF. When you have two below average fielders as your SS and 2B it's no surprise your pitcher's BABIP goes up.Cards DER (Defensive Efficiency Ratio, basically, the number of chances that they turn into outs) is .681, 26th in MLB. (For comparison, the Nats are 15th at .691.Team fielding by DERhttp://mlb.mlb.com/stats/sortable.jsp?c_id=mlb&tcid=mm_mlb_stats#elem=%5Bobject+Object%5D&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Team+fielding&game_type='R'&season=2013&season_type=ANY&league_code='MLB'&sectionType=st&statType=fielding&page=1&ts=1368204912022&sortColumn=der&sortOrder='desc'&extended=0

  36. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Ask Davey who got the last hit off of Koufax before he retired.

  37. NatsLady - May 10, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Dwight Gooden's autobiography is coming out. Wow, 218 innings when he was 19, 276 innings when he was 20. Etc. Who knows whether the drugs or the innings marred his career more, but he did stay in the majors for almost twenty years, and a lot of those years he was above average. Gooden Autobiographyhttp://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/05/10/dwight-goodens-autobiography-is-coming-out-not-surprisingly-it-sounds-like-a-grim-read/

  38. NatsJack in Florida - May 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Ghost…..Davey will let you know in a heart beat.

  39. A DC Wonk - May 10, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Dwight Gooden's autobiography is coming out. Wow, 218 innings when he was 19, 276 innings when he was 20.Yep — and 276 the next year, too (counting playoffs).Many have said that it was drugs the did him in. But, as I've mentioned a number of times here, I think that was only one factor — I think 554 innings (28 complete games) at age 20-21 was a rather significant factor, too.

  40. mick - May 10, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    I think Zim is the best right now, but as Nats Jack states, Harvey would start the All Star game in NY.

  41. mick - May 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I will be at ball park tonight, can't wait

  42. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. mick - May 10, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    What do you all think of Haren right now? I thought Tigers hit him pretty well, but our outfielders made good plays on solidly hit balls. The 3run HR he gave up was not good. I am hoping that all the kinks with him are working out. He is almost a clone of Ejac and I am not sure if that is good. He seems to be OK for 4-5 innings.

  44. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Wonk, no idea about Wainwright. in small sample, his BABIP is trending down if you look at his plot so basically he should be better than he has been going forward I guess. no idea why. FG has couple of articles on him but I haven't read them to know whether they explain him or not.

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    NatsJack, what Davey won't tell you is that he was supposed to Sac Bunt in his 2nd AB against Koufax and popped up the bunt.

  46. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    mick, as far as I know haren is a bit of a flyball pitcher and has had a HR/FB% problem before last season so he won't stop giving up those home runs. now giving those home runs with runners on is the problem and we all know, tigers are a pretty solid lineup.

  47. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    GoSM, did you guys watch that game live?

  48. Harpo - May 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    "mick said… What do you all think of Haren right now? I thought Tigers hit him pretty well, but our outfielders made good plays on solidly hit balls. The 3run HR he gave up was not good."He had a 4 run lead and went after the pinch-hitter like you are supposed to. It was a good pitch that the hitter got him on. It happens. I think Haren is much more interested in finding ways for his team to win than personal stats.

  49. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… GoSM, did you guys watch that game live? May 10, 2013 1:49 PM Faraz, I was 7 then and watched every minute of it even stayed home from school. Back in those days for the day games they would show them in school. How times change. Davey was one of my favorites as I was a 2nd baseman back then until I became too tall.

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    They also put the World Series on DVD where the quality is so much better. The Orioles "cut" of that game which I have recently watched would blow you away to all the errors and lousy fielding the Dodgers had in that World Series.In the Koufax game the Dodgers had 6 errors including 3 by Willie Davis. They had balls fall out of gloves on fly balls. It was crazy. Everything went the O's way during that series.

  51. EmDash - May 10, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Yeah, I thought the pitch that got hit out was well-located and just happened to get hit – not a major mistake. And no one could've done anything about the bunt hit. The walk was his only major mistake in that inning.He wasn't as sharp in this game as he was in Atlanta – missed more often, left it up, got hit hard in ways that luckily went right at defenders. Not terrible, by any means, but a little off. Hopefully that's a byproduct of the extra rest days throwing him off a bit, as he seems like the type to be at his best staying as close to regular rest as possible. There are no more off days until the 23rd, so if he shows his form from Atlanta again in his next few starts that will provide some data to support that point.His next start will be against Kershaw in LA, which should be interesting. Weird stat: our two players with the best career OPS against Kershaw are Haren and Craig Stammen. (!)

  52. JD - May 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    Harpo, Try to keep it civil. We are discussing baseball not world politics. Your comparison between Koufax and JZimm is not valid because the implication from your post is that JZimm was overthrowing and therefore had control problems but now he's dialing it back and therefore is doing better. 1) There is no anecdotal evidence that JZimm ever had control problems. 2) There is no anecdotal evidence that JZimm is dialing it back. Any pitcher who by overthrowing is ineffective (loss of command) should not be overthrowing. The idea that you pitch a baseball to a major league hitter with the intended purpose that he hit the ball (with the assumption that you can magically guide the batted ball to one of your fielders) is counter intuitive and is not what Mc.Catty was trying to say and it's highly unlikely that this is his philosophy. Seeing as how Koufax was 'trying' to make people his pitched balls you would conclude that he was failing even in his greatest years because he still struck out 9 hitters per 9 innings.

  53. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    He had a 4 run lead and went after the pinch-hitter like you are supposed to. Of course, if he walks Tuiasosopo instead, and then gets out of the inning, even with one or two runs scoring, folks would be all over him for nibbling instead of trusting his stuff. The other guys get paid a lot of money, too. I remember an interviewer talking about being scared to approach Bob Gibson after Billy Williams hit a walk-off against him, thinking Gibson would be mad, and therefore unpleasant to talk to, but Gibson insisted it was a good pitch–Williams was just a better hitter on that occasion.

  54. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    lucky you GoSM.

  55. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    how much were the tickets back then? considered expensive?

  56. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 10, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    $215 in 1962 would be about $1255.32 today.

  57. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 10, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    *1963CORRECTION

  58. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… how much were the tickets back then? considered expensive? May 10, 2013 2:16 PM A lower reserved seat at Memorial Stadium was $8.00 for the 1966 World Series!My 1st Super Bowl (Redskins/Broncos) I was in my late 20's and tickets were $75! That seems like a bargain over scalpers prices of $2,000 for a good seat.World Series prices still have decent Face values on them. Baseball continues to be a great bargain against hockey, basketball and football for lower bowl seats.

  59. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 10, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Sec 3, that is unreal for 1963. In most stadiums $215 in 1963 would've bought you an upper deck season ticket plan for the whole season!

  60. Faraz Shaikh - May 10, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    that might be season tickets for that ebay ad I guess.$8 for WS game does not sound bad. that is approx $60 in 2013.

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