Zimmermann dominant through first 13 rehab innings

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Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann has been out of commission since undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on August 19 of last season.  It was a major blow to the Nats when the surgery was recommended and they’ve struggled through a tough 2010 season, but things may be looking up.

Zimmermann, 24, began a minor league rehab assignment about two weeks ago and the results so far have been excellent.  He fanned four batters over four scoreless innings on Wednesday in a rehab start with Single-A Potomac, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, and he has now racked up 13 strikeouts against zero walks over 13 shutout frames.

“My arm felt great today,” he said Wednesday. “The control has always been there
for me, but I figured after surgery, I wouldn’t have the control that I
used to have. I think we are pretty much there right now.”

He could probably make it back to the big leagues by mid-August, or even early August, but that’s not really the issue.  What’s important is that the Nats, with Stephen Strasburg and the re-emerging Zimmermann, will have quite an intimidating one-two punch at the top of their starting rotation for a long time to come.

Washington currently sits 15.5 games back of the Braves in the National League East.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.