Making his third start since elbow surgery ended his 2009 rookie season, Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann(notes) tries to build on a brilliant performance as he faces the visiting New York Mets on Monday.
With Strasburg sidelined for 12-18 months following Tommy John surgery Friday, the Nationals are looking to fill out their rotation for 2011 without the first overall pick from 2009. Right-hander Livan Hernandez(notes) signed a one-year extension with the club last week and is expected to be a major contributor for Washington (59-78) next season, as is Zimmermann (0-0, 4.50 ERA).
After giving up five runs and seven hits in his season debut Aug. 26 versus St. Louis, he struck out a career-high nine and threw six innings of one-hit ball in Tuesday’s 1-0, 10-inning loss at Florida.
“I kept the ball down today. I actually got some fastballs inside,” Zimmermann said following an 86-pitch outing. “My arm felt good. This is probably the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
Zimmermann, going for his first victory since June 25, 2009, makes his first career home start versus the Mets. He went 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts in New York last season.
He’ll face a Mets club trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 20-21. Led by rookie Ruben Tejada’s(notes) first career homer and five RBIs, New York (67-70) beat the Chicago Cubs 18-5 on Sunday to avoid a sweep.
The Mets had a season-best 21 hits en route to their highest-scoring game since an 18-4 victory at Arizona on Aug. 24, 2005.
“He’s the type of guy who’s always in the middle of things and he showed that today,” manager Jerry Manuel said of Tejada.
The right-hander was 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA in his previous four starts, but he was tagged for four runs and nine hits in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss at Atlanta. Pelfrey went just five innings to break a streak of four straight outings lasting at least seven.
“Obviously, I have to execute pitches,” he told the Mets’ official website. “… And I didn’t execute very many pitches tonight.”
Pelfrey is 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA against the Nationals this season, with both starts in New York.
The right-hander has yielded just five hits - one home run - in 22 matchups with Adam Dunn(notes), but the Nationals first baseman is batting .522 with three homers and 13 RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak. Dunn hit his 350th home run Sunday and trails St. Louis’ Albert Pujols(notes) by one for the league lead (35).
Washington has won seven of 12 against New York in 2010, with the teams splitting six matchups at Nationals Park.