You probably have noticed how much better Ryan Zimmerman has played he was given a cortizone shot in his ailing shoulder. I say ailing shoulder because although he didn’t have any pain, he realized he wasn’t catching up with fastballs, so he got the shot. The real proof that is was ailing, though, are the numbers.
Before getting the shot, Zim was hitting .218/.285/.305, but since then he’s managed to raise his OPS 78 points. He’s hit .378/.410/.730 in those 8 games, which goes above and beyond a typical Zimmerman hot streak. He has shown to be a streaky player throughout his career, and these numbers are so ridiculous that we know he can’t keep up this pace. But the Nats could really use a few more weeks of this kind of production. More importantly, though, is that when he does cool off, thanks to the cortizone, he hopefully won’t dip to the .590 OPS level.
Ryan isn’t the only one who’s gotten hot lately. Although Mike Morse didn’t get a cortizone shot, it almost looks like he did. Starting two days before the shot, when he was hitting .209/.236/.313, Morse has raised his OPS a whopping 188 points. Over the last 10 games, Morse is hitting .419/.432/.605, but he didn’t need any medical attention to do this. He had no spring training, and this trend started 72 PAs into his season. In other words, this is early April for Morse’s swing, and he’s finally playing like a guy who feels comfortable at bat.
The combination of a cortizone shot and a spring training in June finally has the middle of the Nats lineup hitting like it should. Adam LaRoche has been strong all season, with some ups and downs, but he isn’t enough to carry a team. Now he has two other guys to make the middle of this lineup fierce and competitive. It helps turn this team into a light hitting squad with good pitching and defense to a team that could be considered much more complete, and much stronger contenders.