Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/19/13
Jordan Zimmermann may not have the flash and style of his teammates Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the better young pitchers in the game.At 26, his control is at an elite level and it’s why he’s so highly ranked even though he puts up pedestrian strikeout numbers. Last year, he posted his second consecutive sub-2.00 BB/9 season, but with an added twist; his first-strike percentage rose from 63.4% to 69.2%. That means that over a third of the time Zimmermann starts off ahead in the count. That ranked second, only to Cliff Lee (71.6%),who just happens to be a natural Bob Ross at painting the strike zone.Given his great control, it’s no surprise that he has posted low WHIPs of 1.15 and 1.17 the last two years and it should only continue to get better as he improves as a pitcher. In his second full season, Zimmermann made strides in his batted ball profile by inducing more ground balls (43.4%) than fly balls (33.4%) for the first time. Unfortunately he also let up line drives a whopping 23.2% of the time, but if he can turn some of those line drives into fly balls it would benefit him greatly.At a GlanceStrengths: IP, W, QS, ERA, WHIP, BB/9Neutral: L, K, K/9Weaknesses: NonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Cliff Lee (PHI) w/o the strikeoutsLikely scenario: Kyle Lohse (FA), Jake Peavy (CHW), Johnny Cueto (CIN)Worst-case scenario: Dan Haren (WAS)Jordan Zimmermann 2013 Fantasy ProjectionNow three-plus years removed from Tommy John surgery, Zimmermann looks to be primed for a very solid career. His ERA could be in for a little regression as evidenced by his 3.51 FIP last year, but as I mentioned above, if Zimmermann can reduce the number of line drives allowed we should see another low-3.00 ERA in 2013.Two things Zimmermann has working in his favor for this year are the addition of Denard Span‘s defense in center field and the quality of the team around him. Span’s defense will be a welcome addition to the Nationals outfield, who had a carousel out in center field last year. A better defense behind Zimmermann will only help his chances at out-producing his FIP in the future.Also, the Nationals not only have a great lineup that should provide their pitchers with plenty of run support, but they also boast one of the better bullpens in the league. The trio of Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano will close out plenty of games this year. I’d feel comfortable penciling Zimmermann in for 15+ wins.Overall, you should see much of the same in 2013 and because of the lack of strikeouts you may be able to get him at a bit of a discount. In Yahoo! mock drafts, his average draft position is 93.9, which is two rounds later than our rank.
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