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Sunday, July 22, 2012

WaPo: Rejuvenated Ryan Zimmerman and Nationals clobber Braves to earn series split

Ryan Zimmerman before the Magical Cortisone Shot of 2012 (4/5/12-6/23/12): .218/.285/.305.

Ryan Zimmerman AFTER the Magical Cortisone Shot of 2012 (6/24/12-7/22/12): .381/.444/.753…and that doesn’t include today’s game where he went 3 for 5 with two home runs.

With two fluid, powerful swings, Ryan Zimmerman led the charge and dispelled the impending bad news. He sent two balls into the stands, powering the Washington Nationals past the Atlanta Braves in Sunday’s 9-2 win. The franchise’s best player when the team struggled for years continued his barrage at the plate; he is locked in one of the hottest hitting streaks of his career. He guided the offense to 18 hits, a team record at home, to cap an important series with a dominating finish. [...]

Through the first three months of the season, Zimmerman was close to a ghost at the plate, something he attributed to his ailing right shoulder. But since a cortisone shot in the shoulder on June 24, he has produced offensive numbers at an all-star pace. His batting average hovered at .218 but is up to .273 thanks to a torrid 40-for-102 stretch. He had three home runs before and since has launched 11 of them, including two impressive shots on Sunday.

“I’ve come back and started being the player that I should be,” he said. “The more you get healthy, and the more consistency you have in your lineup, the more runs you’re going to score.”

Zimmerman’s first home run seemed accidental. With Bryce Harper on first because of a fielder’s choice, Braves starter Jair Jurrjens tossed an 84 mph change-up to Zimmerman with a 2-2 count. Zimmerman had already fouled off one pitch, and the outside change-up looked destined for the same fate. Zimmerman half-swung through it, his arms fully extended. But the ball sailed into the right-center field seats, just above the out-of-town scoreboard. “Sometimes when you clip those, they go further than you think,” he said.

On Zimmerman’s second home run, Jurrjens jumped ahead on Zimmerman with a 1-2 count. He then tossed him an inside 83 mph change-up, which tailed in on Zimmerman’s hands. Zimmerman dropped his eyes onto the ball, kept his head down and swung through, keeping his hands low and inside. The sweeping, upper-cutting swing drove the ball deep into the left field seats.

“He is swinging the bat so good it’s scary,” [Davey] Johnson said. “You feel like every time up there he’s going to hit a rocket. As tired as we were, offense getting 18 hits, scoring nine runs, that’s a pretty good pitching staff. Says something.”

Esoteric Posted: July 22, 2012 at 09:10 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: atlanta, braves, nationals, washington

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   1. Sweatpants Posted: July 22, 2012 at 11:59 PM (#4189448)
I like Jurrjens, and it feels odd to call a 26-year-old toast, but they've gotta get him out of the rotation.

It's actually worse than it sounds, because it's been a bad rotation. So far, it's consisted of a reliable pitcher, a middling pitcher, two struggling kids, and a guy whose season could end (or whose effectiveness could vanish) at any minute, and the reliable guy is a 37-year-old sinkerballer. The young pitching in particular has taken a tumble.
   2. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 23, 2012 at 12:03 AM (#4189452)
Pitchers can definitely be toast at 26. See Kazmir, Scott; see also Willis, Dontrelle, and Avery, Steve.
   3. Esoteric Posted: July 23, 2012 at 12:06 AM (#4189454)
But what actually *happened* to Jurrjens? I'm not a Brave fans (obviously), so I don't really know anything about his history; was there an injury? Some perceptible inflection point? Because right now he's simply abominable.

That said, I'm sure that MLB has collected the needle used to inject Zimmerman's cortisone shot and sent it over to WADA for testing...must be SOMETHING in there other than MLB-approved medications triggering this ridiculous offensive explosion.
   4. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 23, 2012 at 12:11 AM (#4189457)
Part of the problem, I'm sure, is that Jurrjens was never Steve Avery to begin with; at Jurrjens' peak level, just some very subtle/nigh-undiagnosable problem developing in your arm can crater your K rate and you're finished as a major league pitcher. Similarly to what commonly happens with teenage pitchers; sometimes a young pitcher suffers no identifiable injury, but his body subtly changes and he loses 4 MPH off his fastball or a little bite off his slider, and just like that his major league dreams are over.
   5. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: July 23, 2012 at 12:20 AM (#4189462)
Jurrjens' case is a combination of regressing to the mean (he was performing well over his abilities for the better part of the 2011 season) plus an injury. He has a troublesome knee that has contributed to a reduction in his velocity (4-6 mph) to the point where he has to maintain pinpoint location to be effective. When he can't, you see outings like today.
   6. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 23, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4189465)
I don't think he's reminded anybody of Greg Maddux even on his best days.
   7. TerpNats Posted: July 23, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4189561)
Pitchers can definitely be toast at 26. See Kazmir, Scott; see also Willis, Dontrelle, and Avery, Steve.
Something Mike Rizzo needs to tell Stephen Strasburg the day he shuts him down.
   8. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 23, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4189572)
It doesn't have anything to do with innings counts. (Well, not until they veer into Lasorda/Baker-level abuse territory, anyway.) Some guys' arms can take it, some guys' arms can't, from where medical science currently stands there's no way to tell the difference until a guy's arm goes.
   9. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: July 23, 2012 at 09:22 AM (#4189575)
After that offensive explosion yesterday, the Nationals are now #10 in the majors in team OPS. Oddly, the team OPS+ is only 98 though.

It's good that they're pretty much clicking on all cylinders, because Ian Desmond has been put on the D.L., and is going to miss at least two weeks, and possibly more.
   10. JJ1986 Posted: July 23, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4189582)
Is Hanson broken too? With Jurrjens imploding, I didn't realize how mediocre he had become.
   11. Tippecanoe Posted: July 23, 2012 at 09:28 AM (#4189583)
It's good that they're pretty much clicking on all cylinders

You did say "pretty much", but their closer is not exactly clicking, or they'd have taken three of four.
   12. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: July 23, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4189645)

It's good that they're pretty much clicking on all cylinders, because Ian Desmond has been put on the D.L., and is going to miss at least two weeks, and possibly more.

It's a good thing this times precisely with Danny Espinosa deciding to no longer be a void of suck.
   13. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: July 23, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4189662)
You can argue that Espinosa is a better shortstop than Desmond, and that Lombardozzi is almost as good a 2B as Espinosa, so the defense may make up some of the power loss, but they would really be rolling the dice by leaving DeRosa as the backup. It sounds like a month for Desmond's injury to me.
   14. MNB Posted: July 23, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4189710)
Werth should be back soon, too. So, it will essentially be Werth replacing Desmond in the line up.

Oblique tear does not sound like a two week recovery to me. Hopefully I'm wrong.

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