Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann made his much anticipated MLB debut last night after a nearly two hour rain delay. Although the dismal weather and conflict with last night's Caps playoff game likely kept fans at home, the debut of "The Zimmermann" as he was referred to by Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman (who called himself "the other Zimmerman" -- I'm pretty sure this works better when both names are spelled the same) gave the Nationals a glimmer of hope in what has been a dismal start to the season.
The 22 Year old righty's line for the night: 6 innings pitched, 72 pitches thrown, 51 of which were thrown for strikes. 2 earned runs on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 3K's. Zimmermann looked strong and confident all night, forcing the Braves into two double plays and giving up only one mistake, a 2-run bomb off the bat of Matt Diaz. Equally as important, the Nats' relievers combined for 3 scoreless innings, and Joel Hanrahan, who blew two chances this weekend against the Marlins, earned his first save of the year in the Nats' 3-2 victory.
Troubling news for the Nats came out today when it was announced that Joe Beimel, the team's 8th inning man, is headed to the 15-day DL with a hip problem. Beimel, a lefty pick up from the Dodgers in the offseason, has been solid this year, posting an ERA of just over 1.20 in 8 games. For most teams, the loss of an 8th inning/set-up man would not be the end of the world. Then again, the Nats are not a team that can be labeled in the "most teams" category. The loss of Beimel means the return of the horrendous Saul Rivera, who was demoted to AAA Syracuse on Sunday (I guess the Nats will continue to favor necessity over accountability, which I continue to believe is the team motto). Rivera has pitched the same number of innings as Beimel, but was (and most likely still is) headed in the opposite direction prior to his 48-hour demotion. In 7.1 innings pitched, Rivera has somehow managed to cough up 10 earned runs and achieve a dubious 0-3 record.
Lets hope the Nats can use this second win of the year as a springboard, particularly for their starters and offense. The arrival of Zimmermann in the 5th spot in the rotation is positive, especially after decent outings this week by Lannan, Olsen, and Cabrera. Zimmerman, Nick Johnson, Dukes, and Dunn have all hit well this past week, a good sign, as the Nats' relievers will continue to need a sizeable margin of error if they are going to stay in games.
The Nats play two more at home against the Braves before closing out their first homestand of the year. This weekend they head out for a six-game road trip against the Mets and Phillies before returning home to face the Cardinals next weekend. More to come after sometime after the Mets series has wrapped up.