MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Zim's potential goodbye bittersweet for Nats

Free agent-to-be allows six runs in likely final home start of 2015

Zim's potential goodbye bittersweet for Nats

WASHINGTON -- Friday night could have been the last time right-hander Jordan Zimmermann throws a pitch in a Nationals uniform at Nationals Park. The ending was not pretty, an 8-2 loss to the Phillies, as Zimmermann pitched five innings and allowed six runs.

He will be a free agent after the season and he is not sure if he will re-sign with the Nationals.

"I don't know that answer," the 29-year-old Zimmermann said. "We'll see what this offseason brings. I enjoyed my time here. We'll see after the season."

Nationals fans know what Zimmermann has done over the years has been special. They gave him a nice ovation after he warmed up in the bullpen and when he walked to the dugout before Friday's game. The Nats gave Zimmermann a video tribute by showing his first win in the big leagues and his no-hitter.

"I heard it for sure. It was awesome," Zimmermann said about the ovation. "It means a lot to me. I wish I gave them something a little better tonight."

If he departs, Zimmermann will be missed, according to bench coach Randy Knorr.

"I think he is going to be missed tremendously," Knorr said. "You take a consistent pitcher out of your rotation -- that gives you innings and shows up every five days to pitch -- it's hard to replace. You take that consistency out of your rotation, you have to find another pitcher."

Talk to manager Matt Williams about Zimmermann and the skipper will talk about Zimmermann's consistency and reliability. His best game was the last day of the 2014 season, when he pitched a no-hitter against the Marlins.

Zimmermann doesn't get the publicity like teammates Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. It doesn't help that Zimmermann doesn't blow hitters away with his fastball like his two teammates. Zimmermann wasn't a first-round Draft pick like Strasburg and Scherzer, but Zimmermann is the winningest pitcher in Nationals history with 70 victories and a 3.28 ERA.

"He has the ability to have a special moment like he did the last day of the season [in 2014] at any time. That's pretty remarkable," Williams said of Zimmermann's season-ending no-hitter last year. "What makes him good is that he is not afraid to throw his fastball at any time. He relies on it on both sides of the plate. Regardless who is standing out there, he is coming at you. We like that as a team.

"He is one of the guys that keeps that walk totals way down. That's the epitome of Jordan. He is not going to give you a free pass. He makes you earn it."

Williams on Nationals' 8-2 loss

Shortstop Ian Desmond said Zimmermann doesn't want the publicity. He's more about going about his business and dominating hitters.

"I think if he wanted publicity, there are certain ways for him to go about it. I think he prefers to fly under the radar," Desmond said. "Unfortunately, those days are about to come to an end because he has a pretty hefty payday coming. People are going to start to know his game."

Once he tests the free-agent market, Zimmermann is what every team is looking for, Desmond says. Desmond, who is a free agent himself after the season, said Zimmermann is a pitcher who has courage.

"He is someone that grabs the ball no matter what," Desmond said about Zimmermann. "Not only does he have courage, he has the stuff to get people out in the last seven years."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All theTime. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.