Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em: Has Jordan Zimmermann Emerged As A Top 30 Starting Pitcher?

When fantasy owners think of a Washington Nationals starting pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery, I am sure most jump right to Stephen Strasburg. However, Jordan Zimmermann is another survivor of the procedure and has proven over the past two seasons that he can be one of the better options in the league. Just look at the numbers he put up in 2012:

12 Wins
195.2 Innings
2.94 ERA
1.17 WHIP
153 Strikeouts (7.04 K/9)
43 Walks (1.98 BB/9)
.288 BABIP
79.3% Strand Rate

You can argue that the strand rate was on the lucky side, which certainly is fair. However, don’t let that one number deter you too much. In 2011 he posted similar peripherals with a 74.2% strand rate, yielding a 3.18 ERA.

That said, that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. He did post a 23.2% line drive rate, making the BABIP questionable as well. He actually posted just one month under 20% and two under 22%, so he was consistently hit hard.  However, once again 2011 gives us reason for hope.  He posted an 18.7% mark in ’11, but if he can’t get back to that number in 2013, his overall numbers are going to rise no questions asked.

Outside of that, what is there not to like? He is one of the elite control artists in the league, with a BB/9 under 2.00 each of the past two years. While he wasn’t that good in the minor leagues (2.80), he has been posting these types of numbers for too long to simply write them off and consider them unrepeatable.

Wile he isn’t an elite strikeout pitcher, the number he’s posted is more than enough, especially given his control. While he did post a 9.42 K/9 in the minor leagues, he likely gave up a little bit here to improve his control. It’s not impossible that he improves (34 K over 34.2 innings in September), but I wouldn’t count on it.

Trow in pitching for the Nationals, which should provide opportunities for wins, and there is a lot to like. He is going to be a great source of WHIP, especially if he can improve his line drive rate. He may never be an ace, but he should be a Top 30 option with the ability to post an ERA between 3.5- and 3.75 and a WHIP around 1.15 (if not better).

What are your thoughts of Zimmermann?  Do you think he’s going to be a SP2 or SP3 in ’13? Why or why not?

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  1. Nick Tenaglia says:

    So very quickly I went and looked up some starting pitcher data from the years 2006-2012, using these parameters:
    -K/9 between 7 and 8
    -BB/9 between 1.75 and 2.5
    -ERA between 3.2 and 3.9

    I found these six pitchers:
    Jordan Zimmerman
    Jered Weaver
    Dan Haren
    Dan Hudson
    Ben Sheets
    James Shields

    If you are telling me that Zimmerman’s contemporaries are going to be those guys, then I’d say he’s in some pretty good company.

    If you change the parameters slightly to better reflect projected improvement from Zimmerman:
    -K/9 between 7 and 8
    -BB/9 between 1.5 and 2.25
    -ERA between 2.7 and 3.5

    Then you get only 1 player returned…. Cliff Lee

    So basically, Zimmerman should perform similar to Weaver/Haren/Shields, with a ceiling of Cliff Lee – sounds like a winner to me

  2. Pochucker says:

    Drafted him 2years ago as my 5th sp and last year as my 3rd sp. This yr I think hes bargain again as 3rd sp but could live with him as my 2nd but certainly not my 1st choice. Ks are little light for 2nd sp

  3. Scott says:

    I have him in the 11th round as a keeper in a quality starts league. He is money when it comes to quality starts. My biggest keeper decision is between him and Scherzer in the 10th, since it is a quality starts league, I am leaning heavily towards Zimmermann.

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