Jordan Zimmermann is arguably the Nationals' best pitching prospect not named Stephen. He underwent Tommy John surgery last August, and is now on his way back to the majors weeks ahead of schedule.
Zimmermann made his third start for AAA Potomac last night. Dave Nichols at Nationals News Network has a complete recap, and quotes from the man himself,
Zimmermann went four innings, throwing 52 pitches, 39 for strikes. He gave up one unearned run on six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out four...
How did you feel overall with your performance?
"Excellent. I felt great all night. I was locating my pitches pretty well tonight. The first inning I was throwing more fastballs than I usually do and they were just hitting the ball."
On his return to D.C.
"I'm a little antsy but I know it's a process and you gotta take your time. There's stages of the whole thing so I'm gonna keep bouncing around here a little bit yet and hopefully get up there by September."
I love the fact that he is ahead of schedule, but Tommy John's is a very intensive procedure that often requires a full year before the pitcher is right again. Even if it means losing a few more games this season, I'm sure the organization would prefer that Zimmermann is fully healthy before he tries to pitch in the majors again.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has a better idea of Zimmermann's time table
The Nationals plan for Zimmermann to make his debut in the first two weeks of August. By all measures, last night's outing only brought him closer to his first start in the majors since last July 18.
If he returns in early August, that will give him about a month to lineup behind Stephen Strasburg, and give us a glimpse of the future of the Nationals pitching rotation.