Jordan Zimmermann says he hasn’t changed his approach on the mound, but the results have never been better.
His strikeout percentage (22.3) is his highest since 2009 and his walk percentage (3.7) is at a career low.
“I feel like I’m throwing the same pitches, setting guys up the same,” Zimmermann said. “They’re swinging through a few more balls than in the past.”
Over his past 12 starts (going back to June 3), Zimmermann holds a 2.29 ERA. This season, he’s been most effective in the first inning, surrendering only 16 hits and two runs in 23 starts.
He’s relied on his fastball, throwing it for a single-season career-high 67.9 percent of the time, according to fangraphs.com. His slider has been strong recently, though he’s using it slightly less than his career average.
“Early on we talked a lot about him not being able to find the slider,” manager Matt Williams said. “In June he found it. Other than the one start in Philly [on July 11], he’s had no issues with anything.”
Zimmermann, who is scheduled to start Wednesday’s game against the Mets, has worn down late in games, though — as evidenced by a 5.19 ERA in the seventh inning.
Last Thursday, in his last start against the Mets, the right-hander put two runners on base who went on to tie the game at 3-3 in the seventh. The Nationals won 5-3 in 13 innings.
In a July 28 start against the Marlins and up 6-0, Zimmermann gave up two runs in the seventh and the Nationals went on to lose 7-6.
Despite some late-inning woes, Zimmermann has been efficient enough this season for the Nationals to rely on him every time he takes the mound.
“He’s fun to watch,” center fielder Denard Span said. “As a defender, it’s easy to play defense when he’s doing what he’s doing.”
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