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Zimmermann’s second half struggles

Aug 8, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today
Jordan Zimmermann has been dealing with a stiff neck for much of this year, it was the reason he cited for skipping the 2013 All-Star game. But though he took precaution in sitting out a few days in July, Zimmermann hasn’t been the same in the season’s second half.
Before the July 16 All-Star game, Zimmermann was 12-4 with a 2.58 ERA, but since he’s gone 1-2 with a 6.75 mark. Through the four total starts his neck issue hadn’t been spoken of, that is until now.
Manager Davey Johnson said after Wednesday’s loss it could be making a difference.
“I think he’s having some problems, his usual problem, a little tightness.”
Johnson said Zimmermann is not expected to receive testing on the neck and they’re hoping an extra off day – the Nats pick back up on Friday – will help. The manager was under the impression Zimmermann was past the injury, but that may not be the case.
“Hopefully it’s not as bad as it was before,” Johnson said.
Zimmermann denied feeling stiffness in his neck after the Nats’ 6-3 loss, as he has for much of this year. Johnson and his pitcher have had conflicting takes at times this season, from whether Zimmermann was wearing a neck brace before a given game to whether he is feeling pain at all. 

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  1. livernonions - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Can someone with a medical background explain what, if any, downside there would be to giving Jordan whatever the bleeping test would be for his neck? The team always seems slow to order diagnostic tests and it gets frustrating to those of us on the outside who cannot figure out why.

  2. Whack-a-Mule - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Mule note on J-Zim's neck – (for livernonions)Mule would suggest an MRI scan of the cervical spine and soft tissues of the neck, with and with gadolinium contrast. Study to include T1 and T2 sequences with and without contrast plus FLAIR and diffusion-weighted imaging.This would provide information about the discs, vertebral bodies and muscle tissue between the skull-base and the shoulders.Mule would be surprised if the team vet had not already done such a scan, but no one is saying much of anything at all.

  3. SCNatsFan - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Jordan's MO is he is good early in the season and early in games. Just seems like his arm tires out.

  4. Tcostant - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Bad karma from blowing off being in the All-Star game.

  5. ehay2k - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Man, I go away for a few weeks and come back to find the Nats of 2010! Haven't caught up with everything but some thoughts here from what I have read and then seen over the last series with the Braves. (BTW, I thought Boz provided a good read in the BezosPost today. )They still can't hit. I'll sidestep the Morse vs Span/Laroche lineup discussion, because anything is pure speculation. But they belatedly swapped Espi for Rendon, so late that it had already cost them a few games, IMO. We all talked in ST that Danny needed surgery on his shoulder, wondered how it would affect him, etc. As soon as he struggled, that was the time to make the move: early in the year, maybe out of ST. Was Rendon ready then? Perhaps not, but Lombo was a better option than a wounded, over-trying, overmatched Espi. You'd think I'd be crowing about Eck's firing, but I'm not. I definitely wanted him gone but by this time, it's far too late and the damage (from his seasons of poor instruction) is already done. was it bad for the clubhouse – I wasn't around when it happened so I have no way to know the immediate impact. But, I would have rather Rizzo pulled a Snyder and bring in an "assistant hitting coach", perhaps someone with a past link to the Nats like Barry Larkin, to "help" Eck. The pitching – much worse than we could have ever wanted or expected, because the 4 and 5 guys are the ones stinking it up. we thought those were solid, or at leas only Ross might struggle. Did we need more starters? Duh. What ever happened to "You can't have enough good pitching"? I bet Rizzo does not make the same mistake next year. The defense: Meh. Aside from Zimm's early throwing woes, they seem to be pretty solid. Is it just me, or does it seem that, unlike the Braves, the Nats defenders do not seem to be in position to make plays based on scouting reports. we certainly hit a lot of balls right to them. The exception is Span, who to me is a wonder in CF. Has he misplayed a ball all year? Probably a few, but you really have to think about it. He is simply a magnet for the ball. He is seemingly camped under it already as it is hit. He is our best CF defender, ever, in my book. Lastly, #Nattitude. There is none. Upton should have been plunked for his HR admiration the other night. Instead, Harper takes a peek – and it wasn't sure to go out – and gets plunked, and then the Nats just roll over. #Nattitude? Try #Malaise. I put most of this, and especially the malaise, squarely on Davey's shoulders. He thought this would be a walk in the park, players looked unprepared physically and mentally from the beginning of the season (maybe more stretching and working our in ST would have prevented some hamstring injuries?). And, the "World Series or Bust" quote set an expectation that a young team, at least one without Nattitude, could not handle. And he did nothing to help them get over that. Remember when Gio got caught trying to stretch a single into a double? He's a damn PITCHER! That was the time for Davey to pull on the reins and say "Whoaa, we can't win the WS in April or May, just relax a little." I expect the carpet in the clubhouse is by now fully encrusted with diamonds, due to the team-wide clenching that has been occurring all season. I'm still a fan, but paying for next year's tickets has already begun and it is not a check i like writing at the moment.

  6. Unknown - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Awhile back, David Proctor accused me of being a troll from one of my posts expressing the sentiment that this group will never be championship caliber. I am not a troll, just an uber-frustrated long-time Washington baseball fan who has suffered much heartbreak over the years, to the point I can no longer even allow myself to think a championship will ever come to DC in baseball.The only good era was a lifetime ago, the Twenties to mid-Thirties. Since then we have lost two baseball teams, one to a racist owner trying to escape the Chocolate City. Then, we got a doomed from the start expansion team with no good players, a clueless ownership with no money, and then a in debt to this eyeballs huckster who then moved the team just as the DC area was beginning to boom, while baseball and even POTUS sat back and did nothing. So, the USA became the only country in the world where the capital city did not have a team that played the National Pastime. In seventy-four, the Padre were all but here, only to stay in an unfathomable confluence of events. Baseball then passed over us to give even a city in another COUNTRY – Toronto a team before DC – then Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, and two teams from freaking Florida – then the Astros were as good as here only to pass a new stadium referendum by fifty.point.one percent when the team went on a miracle run to win its division. Then, we were told for years that the BALTIMORE Orioles were close enough to DC and we should just accept them as the team of the Nation's Capital despite the fact that most Baltimoreans wouldn't go to DC if that were the last place on earth with food and water. Clinton even threw first pitches there for cryin out loud. Then, we FINALLY get a team and MLB assigns a joke of a GM who traded every decent pitcher we had in the first seaon and baseball didn't let the team call up a full complement of players in September and the team choked away a playoff spot under Frank Robinson and Bowden's mismanagement – then we got a beautiful new stadium that was nevertheless panned as "unremarkable and in an unsafe neighborhood" along with a Bowden-provided laughingstock of a team and the next season a Phillies home opener in our new ballpark. Eventually the team got good, won an amazing division title then CHOKED AWAY the biggest lead in NLDS history and, with one of the most talented groups in MLB, has proceeded to play like dog poop the entire season just when the area was poised to adopt them, become a baseball town, and fill Nats Park for years, if not decades. All we needed was a pennant race and instead we get drummed out by early August, ensuring half empty stadiums with other teams' fans abounding for the rest of the year and the shot at the attendane record blown to pieces with crappy, borig baseball. We get one of the worst next-season performance by a ninety-eight win team in BASEBALL HISTORY.For good measure, the biggest hometown newspaper is hostile to the team, trumpeting every failure, softpedaling every success if not ignoring them altogether and continuing to cover the franchise in Baltimore that actively and successfully kept baseball out of DC for three decades. Oh, and we also get the top two sports radio stations that either ignore or crap on the Nats — and cover the Orioles almost equally, even broadcasting their games — and have no one on staff that knows a thing about baseball. For a talk show post game radio host we get a blowhard fool who wants to talk Senators and Orioles baseball from a generation ago and lousy music and his gallbladder problems. Oh, yeah, and we get to have the team's tv rights owned by a hostile rival owner who voted AGAINST the team coming here with a contract resolution more than TWO YEARS overdue that is preventing the Nats from competing for international players like Aoki, Cespedes, Chapman and others who could really, really help the club.

  7. JD - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    If you look closely you will see that Jordan has simply regressed to the mean. His numbers overall are surprisingly close to last year. During the 1st couple of months Jordan was ridiculously lucky on BABIP and I said at the time that this is nor sustainable. Even now the BABIP is a very low .268. For Jordan to become the ace we all think he can become he absolutely needs to increase his strike out rate. I think both he and Strasburg need to be more aggressive; they have the stuff to blow people away. I think a new pitching coach will be helpful to their careers.

  8. Section 222 - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Mule would be surprised if the team vet had not already done such a scan, but no one is saying much of anything at all.I wouldn't be surprised at all. Not doing the most useful diagnostic test until the injury has become more severe and the player has underperformed for weeks is SOP for the Nats medical staff.

  9. Section 222 - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    There were a couple of good comments in the last thread about the Nats failures at hitting, and at hitting with RISP particularly. Last night where I was sitting a number of us were saying, only half jokingly, that all Kimbrel needed to do was load the bases to make sure the Nats didn't score. Then, when Ramos came up with the bases loaded, we suggested he should be walked intentionally because Tracy was on deck and would surely strike out or pop up to end the game.

  10. JD - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    NL, back to the last thread. I don't agree with the sentiment that there's no point to making a change now. I think that there's a real danger of the team finishing significantly below .500 without a change and I don't think that this is desirable in any way. I think the team needs to reverse the trend of losing and regain a little swagger before this year is out and I don't see this happening with Davie at the helm.

  11. NatsLady - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I wouldn't call for a new pitching coach. (For a lot of reasons). However, I would call for a Livo type to come in and teach these guys how to bunt, field and hold runners. Too many pitchers blow off PFP, and then you see how important it is in actual, y'know, games.

  12. NatsLady - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    My understanding is that a complete MRI with dye inserted can put a guy out of action for several days. Maybe that's what's needed with JZ, however, and with the season where it is, let's just find out everything and if there is an injury, do what it takes to heal.

  13. NatsLady - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    JD, I disagree. Recent events have proved that there is no "momentum" that carries over from season to season. Just look at the Giants. Let Davey finish out the year with Werth as de-facto manager (or Randy Knorr). Our current season is not so valuable we need to fire a 70 year-old-guy, and be the win-at-any-cost go for .500 team. If we are not going to the playoffs, it doesn't matter if we lose 81 games or 90. If we do, by some miracle, sweep the next two series, get back to .500 and have some remote hope, I think everyone on the team will know it's not due to Davey, and they will act accordingly. Believe me, I have been in workplaces like that.

  14. Mr Baseball - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    UnknownI agree with you all the way! I have also lived through all you wrote about. Its about time someone does something about the problems we have experienced. We don't have many years left to wait, in our life time. MLB should do something with Angelos and get the TV contract settled. Or, the Lerners should go to Congress and have the anti-trust exemption repealed. I bet if the Lerners threatened to do this, baseball would move on Angelos very very fast! If they don't we will never be playing on a level field and be an average team.

  15. Knoxville Nat - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    ehay2K said:"The defense: Meh. Aside from Zimm's early throwing woes, they seem to be pretty solid. Is it just me, or does it seem that, unlike the Braves, the Nats defenders do not seem to be in position to make plays based on scouting reports."This statement made we want to look it up because my observation is totally different. According to Baseball reference in 2012 the Nats committed the fourth fewest errors in the National League with 94 as compared to a league average of 104. With 114 games played YTD, the Nats are tied with the Mets at 77 errors so far (league average being 68) with the two teams tied for tenth fewest errors. That would represent an increase of 16% more errors over 2012 if the numbers continue the rest of the season as they have so far.

  16. Section 222 - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Here's some info on neck MRIs with dye. I don't believe it would require Znn to be out of action for any significant period of time. I also have no idea whether it's the right test to figure out what's wrong with him. Hasn't he been to a specialist already? Or was that Det? Anyway, JZnn definitely needs to get the very best evaluation of his condition pronto. This has gone on long enough.

  17. NatsLady - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    222, read your info. Looks like even if JZ got the MRI with dye injected he could be back for his next start (which is different than a position player's situation). As I noted above, with the situation as it is, go ahead and to whatever diagnostics are needed. JZ is valuable to this team.

  18. Candide - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    I think Zimmermann should hold off on the dye injection thing because with the Nats so close to grabbing that last playoff spot, missing one start could kill their playoff hopes. I mean, who cares about Zimmermann's overall health, not to mention his career, when we're in a dogfight for the postseason?Why are you looking at me that way?

  19. Candide - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    BTW, I had a lymphangiogram once. Blue dye injected into the area between two toes. If you ever want to know what it feels like to have a lit cigarette held against your foot (and don't we all?), that's the way to do it.

  20. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    "If we are not going to the playoffs, it doesn't matter if we lose 81 games or 90."That's exactly what the 1993 Pittsburgh Pirates told their fans.

  21. NatsLady - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Candide bringing the funny today.

  22. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    IANAD, but if an MRI puts Znn out of action for more than a day or two, wouldn't missing his between-starts work mess with his next start, even if he was technically able to throw?

  23. natsfan1a - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    BDYPOOTV?

  24. RaleighNat - Aug 8, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Agree with JD…JZimm especially and even Stas need to dial back this pitch to contact…it eliminates one of their most powerful weapons. I used to buy into the pitch to contact….but there is taking it too far….JD said… If you look closely you will see that Jordan has simply regressed to the mean. His numbers overall are surprisingly close to last year. During the 1st couple of months Jordan was ridiculously lucky on BABIP and I said at the time that this is nor sustainable. Even now the BABIP is a very low .268. For Jordan to become the ace we all think he can become he absolutely needs to increase his strike out rate. I think both he and Strasburg need to be more aggressive; they have the stuff to blow people away. I think a new pitching coach will be helpful to their careers.

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