Jordan Zimmermann AP

Jordan Zimmermann exits start with right biceps cramp; will go for MRI

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Jordan Zimmermann gave the Nationals quite a scare last night when he was forced to exit his start against the Phillies in the fourth inning due to injury. According to Mark Zuckerman of, it was announced after the game that he had a right biceps cramp and will undergo an MRI today.

Zimmermann, who had Tommy John surgery in 2009, said after the game that he’s confident that the issue is muscular in nature and doesn’t involve a ligament.

“When I had the elbow problems, I knew something wasn’t right the whole time and just kept trying to pitch through it,” he said. “This, I don’t think it’s anything major, to be honest with you. It’s a little cramping, and it just felt really tight. So I didn’t want to push it.”

At the very least, Zimmermann will not be able to pitch in the All-Star Game next week. His availability beyond that is up in the air. The Nationals will have to cross their fingers for now.

Zimmermann is having another excellent season for Washington, posting a 3.03 ERA and 101/20 K/BB ratio over 113 innings. He’s currently sporting the best walk rate of his career and his highest strikeout rate since his rookie season.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.