Jordan Zimmermann says neck problems aren’t to blame for shortest start of career

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Jordan Zimmermann sat out the All-Star game because of a lingering neck injury that’s bothered him for months and then struggled yesterday in his first start of the second half, failing to make it out of the third inning in the shortest start of his career.

However, afterward the Nationals right-hander insisted to James Wagner of the Washington Post that the injury isn’t to blame for his coughing up seven runs while recording six outs:

It was just one of those days where nothing was working. The neck feels awesome. I threw when I was home a little bit. When I was back, I had a few days to throw. I had plenty enough time to throw and get ready. But the command wasn’t there.

Zimmermann went 10 days between starts, which probably helped the neck injury and hurt his command. According to Wagner even manager Davey Johnson “feared that Zimmermann’s struggles were because his neck was acting up again” before being told otherwise.

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.

NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.

For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.

As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.