At the end of May, Jordan Zimmermann started to face questions. The league was hitting better than .340 against him, and for the prior month his ERA stood north of 5.00. What was up with him? Would his 2014 affect his position in contract negotiations? Had 400 innings over the past two seasons caught up with him?
Zimmermann is not hearing any of those questions now, which tends to happen when you’re one of the best pitchers on the planet for a month. Zimmermann’s shaky start to the season is history, reinforced one more time Monday night as he fired six two-run innings in a 7-3 win over the Rockies.
Zimmermann finished June with a 1.43 ERA, 41 strikeouts and six walks over six starts and 44 innings, which tied Clayton Kershaw for the most in the National League. The league hit .192 against him compared to .342 in May. If not for Kershaw and the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, Zimmermann would the favorite to take home a Pitcher of the Month award.
“I’m just locating really well right now,” Zimmermann said. “Nothing really has changed. I’m just locating really well right now and the slider is really good, and when I have those two things working together I can usually string some pretty good starts together.”
Monday night, for the second straight start, Zimmermann operated mostly with just two pitches. He threw almost no curveballs, same as his last start in Milwaukee, when he twirled three curves in 96 pitches. He relied on his two best pitches: his 95-mph four-seam fastball and his slider, which regained its bite this month.
“I just didn’t have a very good feel [for the curveball] in the bullpen,” Zimmermann said. “I throw it in between innings and didn’t really have the feel the whole game and didn’t want to make a mistake with that when I didn’t have a really good feel.”
Zimmermann’s dominant month righted his season. Though he has just six wins, it would not be surprising if he received consideration for his second straight all-star team – he’s fourth in the NL among pitchers in wins above replacement, per FanGraphs. He also owns a sterling 2.95 ERA and a career-best 4.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“June was a good month,” Zimmermann said. “Hopefully it carries over in July.”