Alphabetically, Jordan Zimmermann is second to last in the 2012 baseball pitcher yearbooks, with Barry Zito filling in that last slot. For fantasy purposes, the Washington starting pitcher is someone you want to put much higher on your draft board. Jordan is third in the Nationals' rotation, behind Strasburg and Gonzalez, but do not let his middle of the rotation role fool you. Mr. Zimmermann has the ability to be an asset to your fantasy team, in 2013.
Jordan Zimmermann gave his fantasy owners plenty to cheer about in 2012. He struck out 153 in 196 innings, won 12 games, kept his ERA under 3.00, and allowed only 1.17 runners per inning. In technical fantasy baseball lingo, that is called "pretty darn good." What is even better, is that I believe he can continue to be an effective fantasy pitcher,albeit with some slight ERA regression, in 2013. Let's take a look.
After missing almost the entire 2010 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Jordan Zimmermann posted his second straight season of respectable fantasy statistics. 2011 saw him fan 124 in 161 innings, to go with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. As shown above, 2012 represented a nice step forward for the 27 year old right-hander, and 2013 can bring an additional step forward, in his progression. Jordan posted a 6.9 K/9 in 2011 and a 7.0 K/9 in 2012. During 2012, Jordan had a 6.0 K/9 in the first half and an 8.1 K/9 in the second half. There are a couple ways to look at this split. One way is to say that Mr. Zimmermann got off to a nice start, came on strong in the second half, and this might give him some nice momentum going into the 2013 season. I prefer to look at a season as a whole, as opposed to artificially dividing it into two parts. Regardless of how he got there, at the end of 2012, Jordan ended up with a 7.0 K/9, which, for fantasy purposes, is where he needs to be.
Speaking of where he needs to be, how about that 2.94 ERA for 2012? And lest you think that was a fluke, it comes on the heels of a 3.18 performance in 2011. The above strike out skills are one way Jordan keeps his earned runs allowed at such a low level. Another way is by keeping the balls that do make it into play, on the ground. 43% of the balls batted into play, off of a Jordan Zimmermann pitch in 2012, were ground balls, while only 33% were fly balls. And of those fly balls, only 9% made it over the fence for a home run. For a fantasy owner, those are nice numbers. The fact that he pitches half of his games in a neutral ball park, like Nationals Park, leads me to believe that he can carry that performance into 2013
So what does all this mean for 2013? I'm not sure Jordan can maintain an ERA below 3.00. His 2012 K/9 of 7.0 coupled with an even more impressive 1.98 bb/9 should keep his ERA close to three, but I would look for something more in the 3.22 area. After posting three straight years of WHIP at or below 1.17, I look for that to stay under 1.20. I think another small step forward is in store for strikeouts, and while I do not think he is a 200 K pitcher, 162 is a reasonable expectation. Finally, he pitches for the Nationals, who should be playoff contenders in 2013, so I think 14 wins is a good possibility. Overall, for a pitcher who will probably be taken after the 20th pitcher off the board in 2013 drafts, these are numbers fantasy owners can be very pleased with in 2013.