Jordan Zimmermann adding change-up to repertoire

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Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, quietly one of baseball’s best pitchers last year, threw six change-ups in his latest spring training outing against the Atlanta Braves. Adam Kilgore writes that Zimmermann has been attempting to add the pitch to his repertoire since 2010, but just hasn’t felt good enough about it to make it a featured part of his arsenal. He’s very confident in it now.

Zimmermann allowed two earned runs on five hits, including a solo homer by Jason Heyward, and no walks while striking out four. He fired 39 strikes. Afterward, all he wanted to talk about was his changeup.

“It feels really, really good right now,” Zimmermann said. “I wanted to throw it about every pitch if I could, but I know that wasn’t the right thing to do. It’s definitely learning when to throw it, the right times. That’s the next step.”

Zimmermann thought all six changeups were “really good.”

Over his career, spanning 479.1 innings, Zimmermann has thrown 235 change-ups out of 7,684 total pitches (3%). Averaging 86 MPH, seven MPH slower than his fastball, opposing hitters have feasted on his change-up. Of the 63 put in play, 25 have been hits (a .397 average) including five doubles and a home run. Of 280 pitchers with at least 50 change-ups put in play since 2009, Zimmermann’s OPS allowed on change-ups ranks 259th. It has certainly been a work in progress. Since becoming a fixture in the Nationals’ rotation, the right-hander has relied on a fastball-slider-curve combination.

Juan Soto went back in time to homer against the Yankees

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On Monday evening, the Yankees and Nationals resumed a game from May 15 that was suspended due to inclement weather. The game was suspended after the top of the sixth inning with a 3-3 tie. That, and the next day’s game, were rescheduled for today, a month and three days later.

An interesting thing happened in that month and three days: Juan Soto made his major league debut. Soto, at the time of his promotion, was the minor league leader in home runs. He took his first major league at-bat on May 20, pinch-hitting in a game against the Dodgers. He struck out. He got his first start the next day against the Padres, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI.

When Soto stepped to the plate on Monday evening in the bottom of the sixth inning, technically he is considered to have done so on May 15. As fate would have it, he absolutely obliterated a 97 MPH fastball from Chad Green for a two-run home run. So he homered in his major league debut after having already made his major league debut. Does Soto have a DeLorean? On May 15, Soto was batting third for Double-A Harrisburg. He went 3-for-4 (all singles) with an RBI.

Michael Kay, citing the Elias Sports Bureau on the YES broadcast, said that it still considers Soto’s debut as having occurred on May 20, but he will have an asterisk denoting May 15’s suspended game. His first major league hit and RBI are still considered to have come on his three-run homer against the Padres. So there’s that.