Tag:Jordan Zimmermann
Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:33 pm
 

Spring primer: Washington Nationals



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals have never had a winning record. They finished 81-81 in 2005 but came in last. Then they dipped all the way down to consecutive 59-win seasons before winning 69 in 2010 and going 80-81 last season. So is 2012 the time for the first Nationals winning season -- and possibly more? Unfortunately for the Nats, they play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Fortunately for the Nats, they are improved from last season's third-place team.

Danny Knobler's camp report: Harper decision might make all the difference | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Brad Lidge
Major departures: OF Layne Nix, RHP Livan Hernandez, RHP Todd Coffey

Probable lineup
1. Ian Desmond, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Michael Morse, LF
5. Adam LaRoche, 1B
6. Danny Espinosa, 2B
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Roger Bernadina, CF

Probable rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Jordan Zimmerman
4. Edwin Jackson
5. Chien-Ming Wang

John Lannan is also a possibility as the fifth starter, and remember Strasburg is on a 160-inning limit this season.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Drew Storen
Set-up: Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge

Important bench players

C Jesus Flores, IF/OF Mark DeRosa, OF Rick Ankiel

Prospect to watch
C'mon. You know who. We've all been watching Bryce Harper since he was about 15, and from everything said in camp it sounds like 2012 is the year we see him in the majors. Will he break camp with the club? Only if they're ready to play him everyday, which means Werth is shoved to center. I believe the Nationals would have to be 100 percent convinced Harper was ready to star right now, otherwise there's no reason to do so -- especially since the defense would suffer as a result. More likely, an injury or underperformance opens the door sometime in May or June. Regardless, scouts collectively believe Harper is an elite-level superstar when he does stick in the majors. Anthony Rendon bears watching as well, but not to the extent of Harper.

Fantasy breakout: Jordan Zimmermann
"One could argue that in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery Zimmermann had already broken out. Last year the 25-year-old posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.15 WHIP and only an innings limit kept him from being a top 40 starting pitcher. This season, Zimmermann won't be curtailed in terms of his workload, and better yet, there is room for him to perform better even on a per-inning basis. He averaged slightly less than seven strikeouts per nine innings in 2011, not meeting the standard he set prior to his surgery but he started to miss a lot more bats over his final 10 starts. Over that span, Zimmermann got to strike three 53 times in 58 2/3 innings. With more innings and a higher K-rate likely this season, look for Zimmermann to emerge as a No. 3 starting pitcher in mixed leagues." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust Jayson Werth
"Leaving a homer-friendly ballpark in Philadelphia behind, many expected Werth to have a down year in 2011, but the worst may be yet to come. Park factors may have worked against Werth with his move to Washington but even before he signed with the Nationals he was facing a steady decline in his home run per flyball ratio. While Werth's home run power seems to be evaporating the 46 doubles he hit in 2010 was merely an outlier as he has never hit more than 26 in a season barring that one year." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Every player plays like he's capable and the Nationals don't have a major weakness. The offense has the potential to be strong top-to-bottom, with great starting pitching -- Edwin Jackson proving to be the best No. 4 in the league -- and a lock-down back-end of the bullpen. If everything comes together like it can, the Nationals would make the playoffs. They may not be able to win the toughest division in the National League, but with a possibility of two wild cards on the table -- seriously, Bud, how long until this is decided?!? -- there's certainly no reason to count out the Nats.

Pessimistic outlook
While there are good hitters in the lineup, the lack of an elite slugger in addition to a hole in center field holds the offense back. Werth's struggles bleed into 2012, Zimmerman again can't stay healthy and the pitching staff is plagued by Gonzalez's control issues and Jackson's inconsistency -- not to mention Strasburg's inning limit. Playing in the mighty NL East, the Nationals come in fourth or even last, with the Mets surprising and jumping over them.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 10:23 pm
 

Nats give Gio Gonzalez 5-year extension

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Not only did the Nationals avoid arbitration with recently acquired left-hander Gio Gonzalez, the team bought out the rest of his arbitration years and more, agreeing to a five-year, $42 million extension on Sunday, the team announced. The deal also includes options for 2017 and 2018.

The 26-year-old came from Oakland in a six-player deal on Dec. 23. An All-Star in 2011, Gonzalez was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA last season. Overall, he's 38-32 with a 3.93 ERA in parts of four seasons in Oakland. In each of the last two seasons, he's won at least 15 games and thrown more than 200 innings.

Gonzalez will join Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in the rotation, along with John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:56 am
 

Homegrown Team: Nationals/Expos



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

We continue the series today with the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos. Yeah, remember them -- the best team in baseball in 1994 before the strike ended the season without a World Series? If you don't, you'll need to be reminded of a certain Bartolo Colon trade, which ended up being awful for the Expos, who got 17 starts from Colon after coughing up three future All-Stars for him. What we see is a team that looks pretty good, but has loads of young talent either already developing in the bigs or soon to be arriving.

Lineup

1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Vladimir Guerrero, RF
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Danny Espinosa, 1B
7. Ian Desmond, SS
8. Brian Schneider, C

Starting Rotation

1. Cliff Lee
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Jordan Zimmermann
4. Javier Vazquez
5. John Lannan

Bullpen

Closer - Drew Storen
Set up - Bill Bray, Craig Stammen, Collin Balester, Miguel Batista
Long - Armando Galarraga, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Ross Detwiler

Notable Bench Players

Bryce Harper, Chris Marrero, Wilson Valdez, Anthony Rendon, Jamey Carroll, Orlando Cabrera, Geoff Blum and Roger Bernadina.

What's Good?

The starting rotation is really good, especially if you start to think about the future. Much like the real Nats, Peacock, Milone and Detwiler all have the potential to break through and really make this a strong top-to-bottom rotation. Here, you have a perennial Cy Young candidate sitting at the top, too. The batting order definitely has the potential to be good, but there are a lot of question marks, so we can't really be overly excited about it. But, much like with the rotation, there is some serious potential on the way in Harper and Rendon. Finally, the bench is really good. This team has depth.

And in case you're curious, the three All-Stars the Expos gave up for Colon were Sizemore, Phillips and Lee. None of the three had made their major-league debut at the time of the trade.

What's Not?

If we were really going to stick Vlad in right field, we'd have to pray no one hit the ball out there. Should I have gotten more creative and put Vlad at first, moving Espinosa out to right? Maybe. We could move Vlad to 1B and throw Harper into the fire, play Bernadina in the outfield and move Vlad to first or just bench Guerrero. I'm open to any idea, but the idea I used was to maximize the offense. Hey, it worked when the Cardinals put Lance Berkman in right this past real season, right? Also, Schneider is a pretty bad catching option at this point, but there were zero other options on current 40-man rosters or in free agency in the MLB (which is what we used to build these rosters). Finally, the bullpen is very thin in front of Storen in the late innings.

Comparison to real 2011

The real-life Nats are just on the cusp of breaking through, though it'll be tough in the stacked NL East. These Nats would be a bit better with the legitimate ace Lee and a great bench. Maybe mid-80s in wins, but with tons of help on the way. Much like with the real Nats, it's kind of a "watch out next year" type deal -- with the likes of Harper, Rendon, Peacock and Milone waiting in the wings while Strasburg, Zimmermann, Storen, Espinosa et al continue to get better.

Next: Boston Red Sox

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:18 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 11:44 pm
 

Looking at NL Comeback candidates

Ryan VogelsongBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Earlier today my colleague Matt Snyder wrote about the Comeback Player of the Year awards and also took a look at the top candidates in the American Leaugue. Now it's time to look at the National League.

As Matt noted, the Comeback Player of the Year Award has been sanctioned by the MLB since 2005. It is voted upon by the 30 MLB.com beat writers (one per team). The criteria for the award is incredibly subjective and open to interpretation. Voters are asked to name a player in each League "who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season."

That's vague -- but that seems to be a recurring theme with baseball awards. There's usually a couple of different type of comebacks -- the comeback from injury, the comeback from poor performance, the old guy and putting together one last hurrah and then the wild cards.

We've got a bit of each of those in the National League, but I'll get to that later. Like Matt, I'll give you the three frontrunners and several others. And once again, it should be noted I don't vote for this and I'm not exactly sure who I would vote for at this point. But here's who is in the running.

The Frontrunners

Carlos Beltran, Mets/Giants
2010 numbers: .255/.341/.427, 7 HR, 27 RBI in 64 games
2011 numbers: .298/.386/.524, 20 HR, 80 RBI in 129 games
Beltran may not win it because of his team's performance, not his. Beltran was supposed to ignite a dormant Giants offense, but even a .325/.367/.558 performance with five homers and 14 RBI in his 31 games before Thursday's game were just as advertised, it's just that it hasn't led the Giants to the postseason. The 34-year-old Beltran was the hottest name at the trade deadline because he'd looked like he had finally recovered from the knee surgery that limited him in 2010. Beltran missed 13 games after coming over to the Giants because of a wrist injury, but he's still shown that he has something left in his tank -- and just in time for free agency.

Lance Berkman, Cardinals
2010 numbers: .248/.368/.413, 14 HR, 58 RBI in 122 games
2011 numbers: .290/.404/.551, 30 HR, 86 RBI in 132 games
Berkman looked like he was finished last season, first with the Astros and then with the Yankees. In the offseason he signed a one-year deal worth $8 million with the Cardinals to play the outfield and there were plenty of skeptics -- myself included. Still, Berkman got into shape and thrived with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. He was an early candidate for MVP, and he may still not be in that discussion, but he's certainly at the forefront for this award. If your definition of a "comeback player" is returning to form, Berkman's the easy pick. If you have a different definition, well, your choice may be...

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
2010 numbers: 3-8, 4.81 ERA, 1.773 WHIP in 33 games and 14 starts in Triple-A
2011 numbers: 10-7, 2.66 ERA, 1.251 WHIP in 27 games and 25 starts
Vogelsong hadn't thrown a pitch in the major leagues since 2006 and hadn't won a game since 2005 before the start of the 2011 season. When you talk about comebacks, Vogelsong's may not have ever been a great pitcher (he had 10 career victories in 33 career starts before 2011), but he fits the comeback in terms of just coming back to the big leagues. Since 2006 he pitched for two teams in Japan over three years before trying a comeback in the United States in 2010. Vogelsong replaced Barry Zito in the rotation in April  and then went 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA before the All-Star break and earned a nod to the All-Star team. He's not been quite as good since then, but he still has a 3.30 ERA in the second half, only to go 4-6 thanks to a sputtering Giants offense.

Sean BurroughsThe Others

Sean Burroughs, Diamondbacks. You can put Burroughs in the Josh Hamilton comeback category, except unlike Hamilton, Burroughs had reached the big leagues before he returned from addiction to play. Burroughs, the ninth-overall pick in the 1998 draft, made it to the big leagues at 21 and even hit .298/.348/.365 for the Padres in 2004. However, he was out of baseball by 2006 and battled with substance abuse. As recently as last year, Burroughs was homeless and eating out of garbage cans. His .265/.276/.333 line isn't going to earn him too many accolades, but the fact that he's in the big leagues is as much of a comeback as can be imagined.

Aaron Harang, Padres. Returning to his hometown of San Diego after eight years in Cincinnati, Harang has been the Padres' best starter. After winning just six games in each of the last three seasons with the Reds, Harang is 13-6 with a 3.85 ERA this season. There's no doubt Harang has benefitted from the change of scenery -- and home ballparks, going from homer-happy Great American Ball Park in Cincy to the pitcher's dream of Petco Park in San Diego. Harang is 7-4 with a 3.30 ERA at Petco and 6-2 with a 4.70 ERA away from home.

Todd Helton, Rockies. The 37-year-old Helton was healthy this season after battling a back injury last season, when he hit just .256/.362.367 in 118 games. This season he's hitting .302/.385/.466 with 14 homers and 69 RBI. 

Jason Isringhausen, Mets. Isringhausen, 39, had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and signed a minor-league deal with the Reds in 2010, pitching for their Triple-A team in Louisville. He signed a minor-league contract with the Mets -- the team that drafted him in 1991 -- and after a short stint in extended spring training made the team and served as the team's closer for much of the season. Overall, he notched seven saves to get his career total to 300, pitching in 53 games for the Mets and putting up a 4.05 ERA, striking out 44 batters in 46 2/3 innings.

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals. Lohse has always been bit of an enigma -- blessed with immense talent, Lohse can one day look dominating and the next day out of his league. When he did pitch in 2010, he didn't pitch well and then his season was ended in May when he underwent surgery on his right forearm. He's been a staple in the Cardinals' rotation this season, going 13-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 28 starts. 

Pablo Sandoval, Giants. San Francisco won the World Series in 2010 with very little help from Pablo Sandoval, who played in just one of the team's World Series games and six postseason games. Well, Sandoval came into camp in shape and has responded, despite missing 40 games with a hand injury. Going into Thursday night's game, Sandoval was hitting .301/.345/.511 -- and then hit for the cycle on Thursday, notching his 20th homer and 25th double. 

Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals. The Nationals hope Zimmermann's return from Tommy John foreshadows the recovery of Stephen Strasburg. Much like Strasburg, Zimmerman had to have Tommy John surgery after a promising start to his rookie year, but was then able to return the next season and pitch. While his 8-11 record isn't too impressive, the 3.18 ERA in 26 starts is. With Zimmermann and Strasburg, the Nationals have high hopes for the future.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:12 am
 

Pepper: Ortiz says it's time to panic



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Wild Cards were all sewn up -- or so we thought.

While it appeared the Braves and Red Sox would cruise to the Wild Card (or the AL East title for Boston), but in the last week, things have gotten interesting. St. Louis swept Atlanta to move just 4.5 games behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay is now just 3.5 games behind the Red Sox as Boston finished a 1-6 road trip, including being swept by the Rays.

Still, there's not a whole lot of baseball left, the two favorites are still favored by mathematicians to hold onto their leads. So it's not time to panic, right?

"Hell yeah, you've got to panic at this point, but you're not going to do anything panicking but playing better," Boston's David Ortiz told reporters (Boston Herald). "Of course you're freaked out, you go on this road trip, 1-6, it's not good. We've got these guys breathing down our next and we're not in first place, either."

Give him credit, Ortiz is always entertaining and this time he's right. The team should worry about the Rays and can't get too worked up about it because panic doesn't help a team play any better. It's an interesting balancing act, playing with urgency, but not panic. Baseball's a tough game that's even tougher when you press.

Cuddyer's homer helped save teammate: Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer hit two game-winning homers in a minor-league playoff series in 2001 to lead his team to a victory in the best-of-five series. If his team had lost the series, teammate Brad Thomas and his wife, Kylie, had already booked a flight home to Australia. The couple would have started its journey on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001. With the win, Thomas and his wife had to stay for the next series.

"He credits me for saving his life," Cuddyer told MLB.com. "I mean, I don't know about that. It was just a twist of fate."

Thomas is currently on the Tigers' 60-day disabled list.

Cuddyer also wrote about the incident on FoxSports North.

Wainwright remembers: We all have our own personal stories about where we were on Sept. 11, 2001 -- I drove from Athens, Ga., to Washington, D.C., the day before to go to see PJ Harvey at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 10, 2001. I still have the ticket stub and a September 12, 2001, Washington Post to share with my kids some day. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was in New York for the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sept. 10, 2001, and then cancelled a morning meeting near the World Trade Center the next day in order to get on the road to Cooperstown with his brother. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Waiting on Theo: Matt touched on this yesterday, but word is Tom Ricketts is willing to wait for his dream GM, Boston's Theo Epstein. While MLB looks down on major offseason announcements before the end of the World Series, those decisions happen all the time and are usually uncovered before the official announcement. However, there is a real wait if one of those interviewed and hired is still working. That could be the case with Boston's Epstein, reportedly Ricketts' top pick. If Epstein is in the least bit interested, Ricketts will wait. [Chicago Tribune]

Beckett to throw: Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett will test his injured right ankle in a bullpen session Monday and could return to the rotation by the end of the week -- welcome news to the Red Sox. [Boston Herald]

Weeks to go slow: Rickie Weeks returned to the Brewers' lineup on Sunday, walking and being hit by a pitch in his only plate appearances and was taken out of the game after four innings. The team plans on taking it slow with him. The Brewers are off on Monday and manager Ron Roenicke said he would try to get Weeks back into the game on Tuesday and maybe increase his innings. Weeks missed six weeks after suffering a severe left ankle sprain. [Appleton Post-Crescent]

Cruz ready to return: The Rangers are in the closest playoff race in baseball, leading the Angels by 2.5 games and they get some good news on Tuesday when Nelson Cruz says he'll be ready to return from the disabled list. Cruz went on the DL on Aug. 30 with a strained left hamstring and ran in the outfield on Saturday. The Rangers don't have any minor-league affiliates still playing, so the team will activate Cruz without a rehab assignment. [MLB.com]

Zimmermann bored sitting out: Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann hasn't pitched in two weeks and won't pitch in the final two weeks of the season. The good news is that next season he won't have an innings limit. With Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have the building blocks for a very good rotation. [Washington Post]

Prado struggling: An All-Star in 2010, Atlanta's Martin Prado his having a disappointing 2011. The 27-year-old super utility player is hitting .261/.307/.385 this season, well below the .307/.356/.454 line he put up in his first five seasons in the big leagues. The prolonged slump is costing him sleep, Prado told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Romine relishes chance: While Jesus Montero garnered headlines when he was called up, the Yankees have a better catching prospect, Austin Romine. With injuries to Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli, Romine made his big-league debut on Sunday. Romine had thought his season was over after Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre finished its season, but Joe Girardi needed a replacement and got in touch with Romine on Saturday. Girardi hadn't been able to get in touch with the catcher, so he had to go to the Angels' clubhouse to talk to Romine's brother, Andrew, an infielder with the Angles, to get a better number. Austin Romine replaced Montero in the ninth inning, catching Mariano Rivera, who recorded his 599th career save. [MLB.com]

ThunderBolts to White Sox: Just two years ago Dylan Axelrod was pitching for the Windy City ThunderBolts of the independent Frontier League. On Wednesday, he'll be throwing in the Windy City again, but for the White Sox in place of former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. [Chicago Tribune]

Mo Coco: Reds closer Francisco Cordero is willing to re-negotiate his $12 million option for 2012 and general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that an extension is a "possibility." Cordero, a whipping boy in Cincinnati, has had an outstanding year, recording 32 saves with a 2.30 ERA with five blown saves. Since coming to the Reds in 2008, Cordero has 145 saves and 23 blown saves, converting 86 percent of his chances with a 2.94 ERA. The Reds don't have an obvious candidate to take over in the ninth inning if they decline his $12 million option. He was the team's highest-paid player in 2011 and his $12 million in 2012 would be the tied for the team's highest-paid player along with second baseman Brandon Phillips, who also has a $12 million option for 2012 that the team is expected to pick up.

Eat before you go: We see a report like this just about every year, but it's always a good reminder -- if you want your food handled properly before you eat it, you've got to make sure to do it yourself. [CBS Chicago]

Bourjos takes blame: We all have those people we know or work with that will never admit fault -- there's always some crazy excuse or reason something went wrong, and it's never their fault, it's some extenuating circumstance. The Angels' Peter Bourjos is not that guy. His error doomed the Angels on Sunday, and instead of complaining about the sun or anything, taking full responsibility for the play that killed his team. [Los Angeles Times]

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:48 am
 

Bowden correctly fires off on Strasburg critics



By Matt Snyder


In case you've completely ignored baseball this week, we'll inform you that Stephen Strasburg made it back to the majors -- and dazzled. It had been just a few days over a year since he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow.

I guess you could call the return at least slightly controversial, because there are some who believe the Nationals should not allow Strasburg to pitch this month. Former Nationals GM Jim Bowden had some pretty serious words for those against Strasburg pitching this season. On his radio show, he was reacting to a poll as to whether or not Strasburg should pitch this season -- and he didn't hold back (via Washington Post):
“This is a really dumb poll and a really dumb question, and it infuriates me,” Bowden said. “And it’s probably just because I’m a former GM, but how anybody can criticize the way the Washington Nationals have brought Stephen Strasburg back?

“[Critics] know nothing about baseball, nothing about rehab, nothing about the history of the surgery, and have NO respect for the medical profession. They followed this to the t. This is Dr. James Andrews, who is one of the best in the country; this is his exact plan, TO THE DAY. It’s 12 months and 3 days from the surgery, and he never had a setback, and they carried about the exact program. His velocity’s up to 98, 99 with no pain, and they’re doing absolutely everything they’re supposed to from a medical perspective, from a baseball perspective and for the future of Strasburg.

“He’s not on the mound tonight to sell tickets. He’s on the mound because this is the program that you do when you come back from Tommy John, and you want to build up Major League innings as part of this program at the end, so that next year if they’re in a pennant race, they’re gonna be prepared to have Strasburg pitching important games in September. This is nothing that can be debated. Nobody can sit here and say that this is wrong and have any medical or baseball reason for that....

“C’mon. Give me a freaking break. I don’t even want to be discussing this. KUDOS to Mike Rizzo and the Nationals, KUDOS to Jim Andrews, KUDOS to Stephen Strasburg, KUDOS to the training staff of the Nationals, to Dr. Wiemi Duoguih, to Dr. Andrews, everybody that was involved in this process did their job, and he’s on the mound tonight BECAUSE of that.

“God Bless the Nationals, God Bless Strasburg, and God Bless the United States of America.”

Awesome.

Thank you, Jim. Allow me to supplement.

From a personal standpoint, every time I post anything about Strasburg, there's bound to be someone in the comments section or on Twitter saying the Nationals are "rushing" Strasburg back. Publicly, there have been a few critics, too. Rob Dibble, for example, has been critical of the return -- which is ridiculous, because Dibble told Strasburg last season to "suck it up" and keep pitching. Curt Schilling also said there was no reason to bring Strasburg back this year.

Nevermind that Tommy John surgery carries a 10-14 month recovery period nowadays and that Strasburg came back well within that frame. Nevermind that freaking Dr. James Andrews -- easily the most respected sports surgeon around -- has cleared him. Nevermind that the Nationals have handled Jordan Zimmermann as perfectly as possible in his recovery from the exact same procedure.

Nah, none of that matters when it comes to Strasburg for some. Since the Nationals are out of the race, they should just shut him down for the season ... seemingly just for the sake of shutting him down. Really?

What I find most hilarious/maddening is that we'll often get comments complaining about players not playing through pain. You know, because if it was a real job they'd have to show up for work everyday. Since they are millionaires, they should just show up for work no matter what. Sometimes it's completely fair (if an injury doesn't affect performance and can't get worse through playing, I'd agree whole-heartedly players should play through pain).

Strasburg is ready, willing and able to show up for work now. His doctor says his injury is healed enough for him to pitch. He's throwing nearly 100 miles per hour. And people still complain. It's amazing.

In response to the fair question of what can be gained by Strasburg pitching this month, I'll reply with the following: He's building arm strength at the absolute ideal time in his rehab process to do so. In the process, he's getting more experience working against major-league hitters for a few starts, which will only speed the process in his development as an ace. Remember, he's still only 23 years old and only has 13 big-league starts under his belt.

Now, I have two questions for the naysayers:

1. Are you smarter than Dr. Andrews when it comes to surgical recovery?
2. Do you know how Strasburg physically feels?

If you answered no to both of the above, stop complaining and enjoy watching Strasburg's immense talent. If you answered yes to either, you're delusional and need to find a different kind of doctor.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 28, 2011 10:56 am
 

On Deck: Weaver goes after Rangers

OD

By Matt Snyder

Follow all the live action on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. Also, keep up with the standings, which update at the conclusion of each game.

Halos in the heat: An Angels victory in Texas Sunday would trim the Rangers' AL West lead to one game -- and knot the two at 60 in the loss column. The Angels want this series bad enough that Jered Weaver, like Ervin Santana did Saturday night, is going to work on three days' rest for the first time this season. Assuming he's feeling strong, Weaver should prove a tough opponent for the Rangers. In four starts against Texas this season, Weaver has a 1.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 25 strikeouts. The Rangers have hit Weaver well at home in the past, so the offense will look to turn back the clock Sunday in the triple-digit heat. Colby Lewis (11-9, 4.07) gets the ball for the home team. Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET.

Snakes on a run: It appears those waiting on the upstart Diamonbacks to come back to Earth are going to be waiting for quite a while. The D-Backs have now won five in a row and hold a three-game lead in the NL West over the defending champion Giants. Sunday looks like one the D-Backs should get, too, on paper. Potential NL Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy (16-4, 3.09) will face off against one of the league's more anemic offenses in the Padres. Cory Luebke (5-6, 2.91) will go for the Padres and he's having a sneaky-good season, so this could be a low-scoring affair. Padres at Diamondbacks, 4:05 p.m. ET.

Swan song: Jordan Zimmermann is overshadowed in terms of hype because he's pitching in the same organization as Stephan Strasburg -- who was light's out Saturday night in a rehab start -- but Zimmermann deserves plenty of attention himself. In his first season back since having Tommy John surgery, like Strasburg, Zimmermann has a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 157 innings. He's on an innings limit, as the Nats look to protect his arm, so Sunday will mark his final outing of the season. Strasburg will take his rotation spot eventually, so we'll have to wait until 2012 to see them in the rotation together. They're likely a very formidable 1-2 punch in the future. Sunday, Zimmermann (8-11, 3.10) will look to break a five-game losing streak for the Nats. They'll face Johnny Cueto (9-5, 2.43) and the Reds. Reds at Nationals, 1:10 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 9:53 pm
 

Strasburg has rough rehab outing

By Matt Snyder

Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg was nearly untouchable during his second rehab start, but Wednesday night, he didn't have near the same success in his third rehab start. Pitching for Low-A Hagerstown -- where Bryce Harper began the season -- Strasburg was knocked around the yard by the Lexington Legends.

Strasburg reached his pitch limit after just 1 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits -- including three doubles -- two walks and five earned runs while striking out three (MiLB.com box score).

Still, don't misconstrue getting hit hard for Strasburg being rushed or not being completely healthy. He's perfectly within the timetable for returning from Tommy John surgery and reports from the ballpark had him in the high-90s with his fastball again, getting up to 99 (Amanda Comak via Twitter). The only thing that really matters at this point is Strasburg continues to build stamina while not losing strength. Plus, it's only his third time out for game action after a long absence. It's only natural he's going to have a bad outing at some point. He seemed to be thinking somewhat along those lines.

"Sometimes it's good to have games like this," Strasburg said after the outing (Comak Twitter). "You need to kind of get knocked around a bit to see what you've been doing wrong."

Earlier Wednesday night, Nationals manager Davey Johnson hinted at a possible -- speculative, not set in stone by any stretch -- timetable for Strasburg's return to the bigs. The perfect date, according to the manager, would be September 2 (Nationals Journal).

The rationale is easy to follow. Should Strasburg stay on a five-day schedule, his next two starts would be August 22 and August 27. Meanwhile, Jordan Zimmermann is on an innings limit for the Nationals -- as he returned this season from having his own Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann is likely to be able to make three more starts before hitting the limit imposed by the Nats, meaning the first time his turn would open up is September 2. That would give Strasburg one extra day of rest between his last rehab start and first 2011 start for the Nationals.

Obviously, a lot can change before then in terms of setbacks to Strasburg or the Nationals feeling like he needs an extra rehab start to get ready. But for now, that's where the thought process is -- or at least was. Things might change after the bad outing Wednesday.

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