Jordan Zimmermann isn’t concerned about signing a long-term extension with the Nationals

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Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann signed a two-year, $24 million deal to avoid arbitration back in January. The right-hander, who has finished each of the past three seasons with an ERA of 3.25 or better, had been discussing a long-term deal with the organization, but the two sides were ultimately too far apart and agreed on the two-year deal to avoid the arbitration-related headaches.

Zimmermann also says that the recent six-year, $105 million extension between the Reds and Homer Bailey isn’t affecting his perception of his own value. Via MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:

“I really didn’t think about [Bailey]. I’m obviously happy for him. It’s well deserving,” Zimmermann said on Friday afternoon. “I’m locked up for two years and happy to be here for two years. What he does has no effect on me.”

[…]

Asked why he recently accepted the two-year extension, Zimmermann said, “The long-term deal wasn’t the right deal. It just didn’t work out. They came to us with a two-year deal. Let’s get this out of the way, so we don’t have to worry about arbitration for the next two years. We can just focus on baseball. We felt it was right, and I think it was fair for both sides, and we got the deal done.”

Zimmermann has quietly been one of baseball’s best pitchers since earning a spot in the Nats’ rotation back in 2011. In fact, among starters with at least 400 innings pitched since the start of 2011, Zimmermann’s 3.12 ERA is tied for sixth best in baseball, tied with Madison Bumgarner and teammate Gio Gonzalez.

Player ERA IP From To
Clayton Kershaw 2.21 697.0 2011 2013
Johnny Cueto 2.61 433.2 2011 2013
Jered Weaver 2.77 578.2 2011 2013
Cliff Lee 2.80 666.1 2011 2013
Justin Verlander 2.81 707.2 2011 2013
Madison Bumgarner 3.12 614.1 2011 2013
Gio Gonzalez 3.12 597.0 2011 2013
Jordan Zimmermann 3.12 570.1 2011 2013
David Price 3.13 622.0 2011 2013
James Shields 3.15 705.2 2011 2013
Cole Hamels 3.15 651.1 2011 2013
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/22/2014.

It may not be today or even this time next year, but Zimmermann will eventually get his long-term contract. If not from the Nationals, then certainly elsewhere.

Brewers hold off the Dodgers to force Game 7 of the NLCS

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Down 3-2 in the NLCS, the Brewers faced a must-win situation during Game 6 on Friday. Any residual uncertainty they might have felt about their chances of extending the series was all but resolved in the first inning, however, when Jesús Aguilar, Mike Moustakas, and Erik Kratz combined for a four-run spread to take an early lead. Powered by those early-game RBI, as well as masterful performances from Wade Miley, Corey Knebel, and Corbin Burnes, the club surged to a 7-2 win to pull even with the Dodgers and force a Game 7 tiebreaker.

Left-hander Wade Miley trounced the Dodgers in 4 1/3 innings of two-run, four-strikeout ball. He was bested by David Freese in the very first at-bat of the night, which culminated with a 402-footer to right field to put Los Angeles on the board, 1-0. After a few scoreless innings from the Dodgers, Freese returned to torment Miley in the top of the fifth, this time with an RBI double that narrowed the Brewers’ advantage from four runs to three.

Things didn’t go nearly as smoothly for opposing lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. In the bottom of the first inning, Ryu allowed a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain, followed by a four-pitch walk to Ryan Braun. Jesús Aguilar came up to bat with two out and two on, then smacked a two-RBI line drive double to right field. Moustakas and Kratz went back-to-back-to-back with Aguilar, putting up another three runs on an RBI double and single, respectively.

The Brewers kept rolling in the second inning. Christian Yelich and Braun each collected a double off of Ryu, bringing Milwaukee’s lead to 5-1 over Los Angeles. Braun advanced to third on a Travis Shaw groundout, but with Aguilar up to bat, Ryu wasn’t going to chance a repeat of the Dodgers’ first-inning debacle. He intentionally walked Aguilar, then whiffed Moustakas on three straight fastballs to cap the inning.

By the time both Miley and Ryu were forced from the mound, the Brewers stood 5-2 above their opponents. Right-hander Corey Knebel worked a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, striking out Manny Machado to eliminate another potential rally from the Dodgers in the fifth inning and retiring all four batters in the sixth (save for Joc Pederson, who reached base after taking a 96.3-MPH fastball to the wrist). The righty received another significant opportunity to do some damage against the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth, when he came up to bat for the first time in his professional career with the bases loaded and two outs… but saw just four pitches before swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

After Ryu’s unexpected departure in the third, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts cycled through five pitchers — Julio Urías, Alex Wood, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, and Kenta Maeda — in an attempt to squelch the Brewers’ comeback. The bullpen combined for four consecutive scoreless frames, but was ultimately foiled in the seventh, when, with runners on second and third and two outs, a wild pitch from Maeda ricocheted off the front of home plate and allowed Aguilar to plate yet another insurance run. Still not content with a two-hit, two-RBI performance, Aguilar came back in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single — only moments after a failed double play that would have ended the inning — to bring the Brewers to a cushy 7-2 advantage as they entered the ninth.

No similar last-minute rallies awaited the Dodgers there. Rookie right-hander Corbin Burnes orchestrated another flawless 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, retiring Pederson and Puig with consecutive strikeouts and inducing a game-inning, series-extending pop-up from Matt Kemp to wrap the win.

Game 7 is set for 8:09 PM EDT on Saturday. The starters for both clubs have yet to be announced.