We have already covered a bunch of fantasy player projections for the upcoming 2011 season, and now I want to talk about one guy who I am a big fan of—Jordan Zimmermann.

(Yes, that’s TWO N’s at the end of his last name. Get it right, guys!)

Even though JZ is coming off a season where he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, the success stories of Josh JohnsonFrancisco LirianoChris Carpenter and Tim Hudson make me feel confident that he can return at full strength.

It is becoming more common for pitchers to undergo this procedure earlier in their careers if problems start to arise because they can come back stronger once their confidence returns.

In the ESPN mock draft, JZ was drafted in the 21st round (pick 202) by Jason Grey, who I think is the most knowledgeable expert in Bristol, and he also made the top 50 in both Brandon Funston (48) and Brad Evans’ (46) SP rankings over at Yahoo!.

It’s fair to say they are believers as well.

JZ hasn’t posted the greatest numbers in his stint as a pitcher in the big leagues. In 23 career starts, he has a 4.71 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. His real value, though, is in his strikeouts (career 8.79 K/9).

Let me point out the obvious first. JZ’s career numbers are a bit inflated because of his struggles with health and his struggle with his control after his year-long hiatus.

His return in 2010 wasn’t an indication on what type of pitcher he can be, because he was limited to five innings most of the time. Those seven starts were more used to get JZ comfortable pitching again and getting confidence back in all of his pitches.

Excuses aside, JZ is someone who possesses the skills to strikeout more than eight batters per nine, and given that he is over a year removed from his surgery, you can expect him to flash the potential he showed in 2009.

There is value in a pitcher who can strikeout over 150 batters, but don’t expect more than 175 innings because the Nationals will be protective given his health issues.

Like my colleague Bryan Curley pointed out in his Jhoulys Chacin fantasy projection, it’s better to take chances on pitchers with high strikeout upside later in your draft.

The Nationals drafted JZ with the intentions of plugging him into the top of their rotation, and without Stephen Strasburg this year, they will lean on him to deliver.


2011 Fantasy Projection

11-9 | 3.52 ERA | 1.26 WHIP | 157 K | 170 IP

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