Jordan Zimmermann: “If it’s going to be any year, it’s going to be this year”

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Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann has a keen idea of what the expectations are for his team this season. On the heels of signing Max Scherzer, trading for Yunel Escobar, and altering the bullpen a bit, the Nationals are the clear favorites to not only win the NL East, but the World Series.

Via MLB.com’s Jamal Collier:

“If it’s going to be any year, it’s going to be this year and we all know that,” Zimmermann said after tossing two shutout innings against the Braves on Friday. “We’re all getting ready for a big year.”

Zimmermann, who can become a free agent after the season, will be a big factor in the Nationals’ success or failure in attaining their ultimate goal. The right-hander wrapped up the 2014 regular season, following a no-hitter against the Marlins, with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio in 199 2/3 innings.

Ronald Acuña Jr. reaches a rare home run milestone

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 40th home run in today’s 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. In so doing he become only the third player to hit 40 homers at age 21 or younger, joining Hall of Famers Mel Ott and Eddie Matthews, who hit 42 and 47, respectively, before turning 22. Ott was only 20 in fact.

Home run marks are a dime a dozen this year, of course, so maybe you want to discount Acuña’s accomplishment. Even if you do, though, you can’t discount his wheels. He didn’t have a stolen base this afternoon but he does have 37 on the year and has over a week to swipe three more. If he does he’ll become a member of the exclusive 40/40 club. It’s only current members: Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano.

The Braves win clinches at least a tie for the NL East title. They’ll clinch the division outright if either they win or the Nationals lose tomorrow.