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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nats' Jordan Zimmermann (flu) scratched; Tanner Roark to start today

By on 4/03/2014 11:15:00 AM

Last year's All-Star, 19-game winner and Cy Young candidate, RHP Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals, was scratched from his first start of the 2014 season with "a nasty chest cold that swept through the clubhouse late in spring training and has carried over into the regular season," according to Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. RHP Tanner Roark, who surprised everyone with a 7-1 record (ERA 1.51, WHIP 0.913) when he was called up late last season, will make today's start against the NY Mets. It's possible Zimmermann could be ready for the Nats' home opener against the Atlanta Braves Friday night.

Jordan Zimmermann (via Wiki Commons)
Zimmermann is the second member of the Nationals' highly touted 2014 rotation miss his first start of the season, the other being Doug Fister (Fister will be out for most of April, as reported earlier today by Sports Injury Alert.). Now in his age-28 season, Zimmermann was the Nats' second-round draft pick in 2007 (they picked LHP Ross Detwiler in the first round). He missed the 2010 season with Tommy John surgery and was shut down after 161 innings in 2011, precursing the controversial shutdown of Stephen Strasburg in 2012. Zimmermann's record in 2012 (12-8, ERA 2.94 in 32 starts) and 2013 (19-9 3.25 ERA in 32 starts) seems to validate GM Mike Rizzo's decision to lessen his pitcher's workload in the first year after TJ surgery. Zimmermann is signed to a 2-year, $24 million contract, eligible for free agency in 2016.

Roark ("ROW-ARK"), 27, had quite a different path to the majors than Jordan Zimmermann. Acquired by the Nats as a minor-leaguer from the Texas Rangers in 2010 (25th round draft pick), Roark posted mixed results with various minor league teams, reaching Triple-A Syracuse in 2012. In 2013, his stats were good enough (9-3 ERA 3.15) for the Nats to call him up when injuries sidelined the half-dozen major- and minor-league pitchers who were ahead of him in the depth charts. He made his debut out of the bullpen on August 7, 2013 with two scoreless innings (coming in for Jordan Zimmermann) and was part of the Nats' late-season surge. During spring training, Roark competed with Taylor Jordan for the final spot in the rotation, but now both pitchers will have their chance. Roark is under team control through 2019.

Follow Rose Ingberman on Twitter @NatsLady and read her blog Lady and the Nats


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