Jordan Zimmermann is on the comeback trail

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Jordan Zimmermann, who underwent Tommy John surgery last August, threw 35 pitches in a two-inning simulated game at Nationals Park on Friday, according to Byron Kerr of MASNSports.com.

“I have been throwing 100 percent for a while now. I haven’t had a
setback, knock on wood. Everything is going perfectly.”

Willie Harris was one of the batters who faced Zimmermann and he provided some rave reviews to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

He looked good,” Harris said. “He was Jordan Zimmermann, man. He was
nasty. Live arm. Breaking pitches were good. He’s way of ahead of
schedule. It shows how hungry he is.”

So the big question, of course, is when will he join Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation? Well, it could be sooner than you think.

Zimmermann said he hopes to join High-A Potomac in early July, while Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told Kilgore that the 24-year-old right-hander is on track to return to the majors sometime between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15.

The Nationals might not stick around much longer in the National League East, but with these two arms, Nationals Park will be a pretty exciting place well through September.
 

Video: Bryce Harper crushes a home run to the Chase Field concourse

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Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.

Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.

The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.

The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chi Chi Gonzalez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.

This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.

It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.