On Friday, Jordan Zimmermann will make what will likely be his final start in a Syracuse Chiefs uniform. JZimm is making the long recovery from Tommy John surgery, and has been rehabbing with Nationals affiliates all season. When he had surgery in August 2009, the Nats figured they had lost Zimmermann for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, as Tommy John typically has an 18 month recovery period. However, just 12 months later, Zimmermann looks to be ready to return to the Nats' rotation.
JZimm has quickly worked his way up from low-A Hagerstown to high-A Potomac to AA Harrisburg to AAA Syracuse. He ws scheduled to pitch 4 games in Syracuse, getting an inning longer in each game. In his 3rd start with Syracuse on August 15th, Zimmermann went 5 innings, and give up 1 run on 6 hits. In his 3 starts with Syracuse, he has an 0.75 ERA and opponents are batting just .167 against him.
Everyone that's seen him pitch live this season say that Zimmermann is ready, and has been for more than a month. In all of his minor league appearances, he's posting a 1.82 ERA in 34.2 innings. But the Nats Front Office have decided to hold him back, probably wisely, as he is just 24 years old and 2010 is a lost season. Translation: there is no reason to rush him back.
JZimm is expected to go 5 innings Friday and to go no longer than 5 innings for the rest of the year, even with the big club, to help save his arm to be at the top of the rotation next year. Seeing Jordan Zimmermann come back should be just as exciting to hardcore Nats fans as seeing Stephen Strasburg on June 8th this year. Zimmermann was supposed to be the pitching future of the Nats before Strasburg stole that role, but a number 2 starter is as valuable as a strong number 1 like Strasburg.
As a quick reminder, Zimmermann's numbers in 2009 before injury: 91.1 IP; 4.63 ERA; 92 K; 29 BB. In 16 starts, he threw less than 5 innings just once in his rookie season, and threw 6 or more innings half of those times. The Nats are understandably excited to get Jordan Zimmermann back as soon as possible.