Nats hand ball to Zimmermann

( – How long Jordan Zimmermann remains a member of the
Washington Nationals is anybody’s guess. For now, the 28-year-old right-hander
has his sights set on Saturday’s matchup against the struggling Philadelphia

Zimmermann is a free agent at the conclusion of this season, but he reportedly
has been unwilling to discuss a contract extension with the Nationals.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told the Boston Herald on Monday he’s had
discussions with the Red Sox regarding Zimmermann. Rizzo told the newspaper
the about the offers for his hurler, “sometimes it looks like a reasonable
matchup on paper, it just doesn’t work out.”

Zimmermann heads into Saturday’s contest off a 9-4 loss to the Red Sox at
Fenway Park on Monday when he lasted only 2 1/3 innings and suffered his first
loss since July 11 of last season. He was tagged for eight runs — seven
earned — on nine hits and a walk.

Over his career, Zimmermann has gone 6-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 13 starts versus
the Phillies. He has won six of his last nine starts against Philadelphia
since May 22, 2012. Zimmermann has also tossed 19 straight scoreless innings
at home when facing the Phillies.

Aaron Harang has pitched well in his first two starts for the Phillies, but
the team has given him, as well as other starters, little run support.
Harang’s ERA is under one, but the veteran right-hander has just a 1-1 mark
thanks to an April 8 win over Boston and a Monday road loss to the Mets, when
the Phillies were blanked, 2-0. Harang has given up a total of six hits and
one run over his 12 1/3 innings thrown thus far this season.

Harang went 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA in four starts versus Washington in 2014, the
one season he pitched for Atlanta. The 36-year-old carries a career record of
3-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 13 starts against the Nationals.

Through 11 games, Philadelphia’s starting rotation has posted a combined
record of 1-7.

Bryce Harper’s three-run homer backed a strong start from Max Scherzer in
Washington’s 7-2 win Friday night in the second installment of this four-game
series at Nationals Park.

Scherzer picked up his first win in a Nationals uniform by throwing eight
innings of one-run ball. The offseason acquisition scattered four hits, struck
out nine and did not issue a walk.

“It was not his best fastball tonight, but he was able to pitch through early
trouble,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “His breaking ball, changeup
was really effective against the lefties.”

Danny Espinosa hit a solo homer, and Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run double for
Washington, which has won three straight following a slow 2-6 start.

Philadelphia’s offense struggled again, producing only two runs on a Freddy
Galvis groundout in the third inning and a Ryan Howard single in the ninth.

“I don’t know if there’s anybody in baseball who has probably faced the
starting pitching we have coming out of the block this year,” Phillies
outfielder Jeff Francoeur said.

The Phillies have scored just 13 runs during a six-game skid.

Philadelphia went 10-9 versus the Nationals last season.