He's a right-handed native of Wisconsin with pinpoint control and a WHIP that barely exceeds one. The ace of the Washington pitching staff ... Jordan Zimmermann, of course.
Zimmermann's last outing in Houston on Thursday night dropped his ERA to 2.35 in 1451Ú3 innings of work. Long-standing local fans, however, will recognize another Wisconsin-to-Washington right-hander, Dick Bosman.
Bosman -- who is from Kenosha, Wis., about 220 miles from Zimmermann's hometown of Auburndale, Wis. -- was the pitching star of the District's last winning baseball team, the 1969 Senators. Bosman went 14-5 that season and led the American League with an ERA of 2.19. Not a strikeout guy like Zimmermann, Bosman was more of a sinker-slider specialist who let hitters put the ball in play, usually on the ground.
Bosman made 26 starts and five relief appearances in 1969, back when using a starter to get an out or two was fairly routine. He was 6-5 on July 27, and then won every remaining decision, including the game on September 25 that got the expansion Senators their 81st win, the only season they hit the break-even mark.
With 14 victories, Bosman was the top winner on an 86-win team that had only two other starters with double-digit wins: Joe Coleman and Casey Cox each won 12 games, though Coleman had a losing record. Despite a league-leading ERA, Bosman received little consideration for the AL Cy Young Award, which was split that year between Detroit's Denny McLain and Baltimore's Mike Cuellar.
Zimmermann's season has been largely unheralded outside of the District. With the national focus on the club shutting down Stephen Strasburg in another month or so, however, Zimmermann's name should be more front-and-center. He's not particularly colorful or outspoken, but his consistency on the mound speaks for itself. He won't win the NL Cy Young Award -- guys like R.A. Dickey and A.J. Burnett have received far more publicity this year -- but Zimmermann's body of work has been crucial to the Nats maintaining their hold on a postseason berth.
Bosman pitched a one-hitter against Minnesota in 1970 at RFK, and four years later with Cleveland no-hit the World Series champion Oakland A's. Every scout and baseball professional I've spoken to about Zimmermann -- including Bosman, now minor league pitching coordinator for Tampa Bay -- has said the same thing: the guy has no-hit stuff virtually every time he takes the mound. Of course, you might say the same thing about his teammates Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler and Edwin Jackson, who already has one no-hitter to his credit with Arizona.
The angst fans feel in anticipation of Strasburg's season finale is somewhat misplaced. Strasburg is a definite ace-in-the-making. But this year, Zimmermann has been beyond simply good. He figures to get some crucial starts down the stretch, and if playoff baseball comes to Nats Park in October, Zimmermann may finally get the attention he deserves.
Examiner columnist Phil Wood co-hosts the "Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" and is a regular contributor to "Nats Xtra" on MASN. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.