– With not nearly as many intriguing pitching matchups on the schedule
as on Tuesday, it will be easy enough to key in on the potential
history-making event tonight.
Game of the Night
San Francisco vs. Washington – Randy Johnson’s first try for win No.
300 will come against the Nationals, the team he beat for win No. 298
on May 11. It’s also the franchise he pitched for when he earned his
first three career victories in 1988. He went on to spend part of 1989
with the Expos, going 0-4 with a 6.67 ERA before being traded to the
Mariners. Since then, he pitched against the ExpoNats 10 times, going
4-3 with a 2.99 ERA.
If Johnson does pick up the victory, he’ll be the 24th pitcher to
300 and he’ll join Lefty Grove and Early Winn in a three-way tie for
22nd place on the all-time list. At 45, he’d be the second-oldest
pitcher to get to 300 wins, behind only Phil Niekro.
The Nationals will go Jordan Zimmermann, who has been looking for
career win No. 3 for five weeks now. Since winning his first two major
league starts, he’s 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in six outings.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉