The last time a Washington Nationals starting pitcher allowed an earned run, the country hadn’t celebrated our dads for being awesome, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley hadn’t called for removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds, and I hadn’t added my twenty bucks to the one billion or so Jurassic World has earned so far. Joe Ross was the last to allow a run on June 19th against the Pirates, and all he did in that game was strikeout 11 in 7 1/3 innings. If you count the 5 1/3 innings where Ross didn’t allow a run after the Pirates scored in the second, Nats starters have now gone 34 1/3 innings without allowing a run, and Jordan Zimmermann didn’t do anything to break that streak last night.
There was a stretch last season, between September 14 through the 17th, where the quartet of Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, and Blake Treinen 25 2/3 innings scoreless across four starts, but the 34 1/3 innings scoreless is sort of unprecedented in franchise history, at least since the team moved to D.C. With the Expos there was a streak of 20 straight back in 1992, and there was a streak of 26 2/3 in 1989, but we have to go all the way back to 1981 when the team went 39 innings straight (4 straight starts where the starters didn’t allow a run and the innings in the sandwich games). I didn’t go back further than that. There was a streak of 25 innings in 1980, but that was it for the Expos days. I confined my search to the modern era, not venturing out to the old Washington Senators days. You’re free to do so. Maybe I’ll update this later.
Last night Zimmermann kept the Braves relatively quiet across his eight innings of work. He allowed six hits and struck out three, one of which he got Jace Peterson on a particularly nasty curveball in the eighth. All in all, he worked his fastball around 93-95, mostly up in the zone, and had a 10-10 mix of ground balls to fly balls. If not for Drew Storen blowing the game in the ninth, I’d be adding in something about Zimmermann earning his sixth win, but he’s 5-5, and I’m sure he’ll just as soon take a Nationals win.
I’m not sure what to make of Zimmermann’s season so far. His K/9 are way down at a career low of 6.16, and he’s walking half a batter more per nine than last season. Then again his HR/9 rate is down and his BABIP of .328 is extremely high. Bad luck? Maybe he’s frustrated with all the errors. He’s already allowed five unearned runs. If not for a Eury Perez double play in the second, Zimmermann might have allowed more after yet another Ian Desmond error (his 16th) when he failed to transition the ball from his glove to his hand. Zimmermann didn’t look happy after the play, but honestly, how can you tell?
So Doug Fister starts today, hoping to keep the dominance of the Nationals staff going. In his first rehab start back from the disabled list, Fister allowed five earned runs to Tampa Bay in 5 1/3 innings.