Nationals fans better enjoy Jordan Zimmermann while they still can.
No worries, he’s perfectly healthy, but after the Nationals made a tentative schedule to work around Zimmermann’s 160-innings limit for this season, manager Davey Johnson told Amanda Comak of the Washington Times earlier today that plans have changed.
While Zimmermann won’t make his next start until Tuesday, he’s now expected to start on regular rest until he reaches his innings-limit.
“He’s throwing so good,” Johnson said. “He’s not a fifth starter and treating him like a fifth starter where we’ve got off days or missing a start, I wasn’t sure that was the best way for him to finish out this year. I think him getting regular work, regular side throwing, regular games until he runs out of innings and then just let him rest (is best).”
Zimmermann has emerged as a legitimate front line starter this season, posting a 2.66 ERA and 82/21 K/BB ratio over 18 starts. However, he’s at 115 innings in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, so the Nationals aren’t going to take any chances. The 25-year-old right-hander has averaged right around 6 1/3 innings per start this season, so that would leave him roughly six or seven more starts before reaching 160 innings. If it’s six starts, Comak projects he could be shut down following an August 18 start against the Reds.
Of course, his eventual absence will hurt a little less if Chien-Ming Wang and Stephen Strasburg continue to make progress with their respective rehabs.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.