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Zimmermann much better a year later

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Zimmermann much better a year later

After a start of six scoreless innings against the Mets back on July 19, Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann spoke to Mark Zuckerman about his season, now three years removed from Tommy John surgery.

"I definitely feel stronger another year after surgery," Zimmermann said.

"Last year was hit-or-miss. I didn't know how I was going to feel. But this whole year I've been feeling great. I haven't had any aches or pains. So, knock on wood, I hope that keeps going."

Zimmermann finished 2011 - his first full season back from having the procedure in August of 2009 with a team-best 3.18 ERA through 161.1 innings, a mark that ranked 21st in the majors and 10th in the National League. But he reached that number after having his worst stretch of the season right before he was shut down.

Zimmermann struggled over the course of his final eight starts and compiled a 4.49 ERA across those outings, a total of 46.1 innings or slightly more than a quarter of his season. Through that final six weeks Zimmermann saw his season ERA jump all the way from 2.66 to 3.18.

It is logical to conclude that based on Zimmermanns 2011 numbers, and his own statements, that he just wasnt the same pitcher at the end of last season as he was for the first three months. Fast forward to this season, and Zimmermann has pitched even better in the second half.

Zimmermann holds a 2.38 ERA through 151.0 innings at the moment, the best mark in the National League. He has risen to the top with a little help from his friends (an 8 ER drubbing of Ryan Vogelsong on Monday), but mainly due to a dominant run through July and August. In seven starts since the All-Star Break, Zimmermann is 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA. His only loss came on Tuesday when he allowed just one score to the Giants.

Zimmermann is 10.2 innings away from establishing a career high for a season, there is no telling how he will pitch from the 160 innings mark to 200 or beyond. But looking at how he faded towards the end of last year, and how different the trend has been this time around, further proves the Nationals right in shutting him down in favor of arm strength and endurance in the future.

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.