No greater pitching force roamed the Grapefruit League this spring than Jordan Zimmermann. He concluded the Nationals’ Florida schedule Thursday afternoon with five scoreless innings in a 4-0 victory over the Mets, the same opponent he will face April 3 in his first start of the regular season. In 18 innings this spring, Zimmermann allowed one earned run on one walk, 11 hits and 15 strikeouts.
Zimmermann turned into an all-star last season, a development his spring training did not foretell. He punched up a 5.28 ERA, walked nine batters and struck out 19 in 29 innings. How much, then, does he really care about his dominance over the past month?
“I mean, they matter,” Zimmermann said. “For me, I want to do good every time I go out. Spring doesn’t matter too much, but you don’t want to go out there and get hit around every single time. So I come down here and give it my all all the time out there, and I feel good. I’m ready to go.”
Last spring, after years of trying in vain, Zimmermann incorporated a changeup into his repertoire. The pitch improved through the regular season, and he threw it with greater frequency as the year wore on. Zimmermann feels the pitch improved another level this spring.
“It’s gotten a lot better since last year, for sure. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s to the point where I feel comfortable throwing it in any count. I still leave a few elevated, which I never want to do, but for the most part, I feel really comfortable throwing it. I’ll throw it at any time.”
Zimmermann attacked the Mets without hesitation. He will face them in five days, in a game that actually matters. He didn’t care. Here, hit this. And, go ahead, try again next week.
“I went after them,” Zimmermann said. “Threw everything at them. Bottom line, they’re going to have to hit the same stuff I throw [in Florida] as I do up there. I’m not trying to trick ‘em by not showing them everything. I have to get ready myself. I was throwing everything.”