Jordan Zimmermann did not pitch well on Sunday, and brought his season ERA way up to 5.29. It also make him 2 for 4 on good appearances and 2 for 4 on horrible ones. Sunday he went only 3 innings, gave up 5 ER, 5 H, 4 BB. Giving up 2 HRs was not particularly helpful. For those that think of JZim as just a smidge behind Stephen Strasburg, we are reminded how big that gap really is. In his worst appearance, Strasburg had 4 Ks. In his most “hittable” game, he only had 4 swinging strikes, but other than those two games, he was much more impressive. He had at least 7 Ks in 9 of his 12 starts, and he had 8 or more swinging strikes in all but one of his starts.
Jordan, who gets some leeway (I suppose) for only pitching 3 innings, manages only 1 K and 2 swinging strikes. It’s only 4 games into his comeback, basically the second half of a rookie season, so let’s not judge too much. But, evidence points towards the fact that Zimmermann does not strike people and get people to swing and miss when he’s pitching poorly. This probably isn’t a rare quality among even the best pitchers, except for Strasburg.
Let’s acknowledge that there will be days where people are swinging and missing, days where he doesn’t have his best stuff. In order to not be a wildly inconsistent pitcher, Zimmermann needs to figure out how to pitch on those days with some degree of success. Hopefully with some experience he will learn to get outs in those kind of games. When a day like Sunday, where people are able to hit him, turn into a 6 inning, 3 or 4 run game, and his great days are still like the previous 2 starts (1 ER total in 10 IP) only without the shortened pitch limit, he’ll be a truly good pitcher. He’ll never be Strasburg, but he doesn’t need to be.