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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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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

Following a dicey matchup between the Nats and Braves Friday night which featured a heated argument between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are getting a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

The Washington Nationals' official Twitter account announced that Saturday evening's matchup will be postponed due to inclement weather just after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The Nationals had planned to host "JMU Night" at the ballpark as a part of their "College Day" series, and due to more forecasted inclement weather Sunday, the Nationals decided to call the game off sooner rather than later.

The Nationals have yet to announce when the game will be made up.

If Sunday's game is played as scheduled, Max Scherzer will start.

This post will be updated when more information regarding a makeup date has been announced.

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