Nationals Would Be Making Huge Mistake by Not Extending Jordan Zimmermann Now

Robert WoodCorrespondent IJune 22, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 22: Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 22, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Jordan Zimmermann is the other young right-handed starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals who recently returned from Tommy John surgery. Even though he is not Stephen Strasburg, he is still pretty good.  

So far this season, Jordan Zimmermann is 3-5 with a 2.92 ERA. Zimmermann has 62 strikeouts and 16 walks in 83.1 innings pitched. He has given up 76 hits and 10 home runs with a 1.10 WHIP.  

The 26-year-old from Auburndale, Wis. has done all this with minimal run support—a run-support average of 4.97 runs per game. That is the 13th-worst average in Major League Baseball and the eighth-worst average in the National League. Only Edwin Jackson receives less run support on this staff, at 4.38 runs per game.   

Given his current performance, the Washington Nationals would rue the day they didn't extend Jordan Zimmermann's contract.  

Zimmermann has shown marked improvement this season versus the rest of his four-year career. He currently has the lowest ERA of his career, with that number never before ending the season below 3.00. He also has the lowest WHIP, OBP, OPS and opposing-batting average since debuting with the Nationals.  

This season, Jordan Zimmermann has become a more efficient pitcher.

He currently throws 3.65 pitches per plate appearance and 14.9 pitches per inning. Both statistics are the best of his career and both rank in the top 25 of the entire league.  

As a result, Jordan's strikeouts per nine innings have dropped to the lowest number of his career. Conversely, Jordan's 3.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio is just below his career-best mark of 4.00 from last year and is currently the 15th-best mark in MLB.    

If this progress continues, Zimmermann would be due to make a significant amount of money through arbitration.  

The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration with Jordan Zimmermann each of the last three offseasons, with the contract amount gradually increasing each time.  

Most recently, the two sides agreed to a one-year contract worth $2.3 million on January 17th of this year. Agreeing to another such extension would maintain Zimmermann's yearly contract at a competitive level.  

By signing Jordan Zimmermann now, the Washington Nationals would be able to lock him up before he enters the upper echelon of MLB's starting pitchers, when he could therefore demand a similar contract.  

Most importantly, the signing of Jordan Zimmermann would solidify the core of this young team.  

Like third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann was drafted by the Washington Nationals and has played his entire professional career with this organization.  

Both players quickly completed their minor league careers, debuted with the major league team, achieved varying degrees of success and successfully rehabbed from a major injury.  

They have both become symbols of the youth, success and increasing stability of this franchise.  

This past offseason, Ryan Zimmerman was rewarded with a contract extension. The Washington Nationals need to do the same for Jordan Zimmermann to secure another pillar of their strong foundation.