One of baseball’s relatively unheralded aces will give a reminder of just how good he is when the Washington Nationals host the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. Jordan Zimmermann might not be as much a household name as Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish, Clayton Kershaw or even team-mate Stephen Strasburg, but he has pitched at a similar level to (and in many cases better than) those stars. He is 7-2 with a 1.62 ERA and has walked just nine batters in 66 2/3 innings pitched. Equally impressive is the fact he’s allowed just 49 hits. He’s done his best work at home in Washington, where he is 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA.
His cause will be bolstered by the fact that the Phillies line-up is not a full strength. Ryan Howard is nursing a sore left knee, and Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz are also out. Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick has been solid this year with a 4-2 record and an 2.82 ERA, but the Nationals line-up has a lot of experience against him (178 plate appearances) and a good amount of success (.293 batting average; .554 slugging percentage). Look for Washington to capture the win.
The Cincinnati Reds will ride the confidence of their starting pitcher, Bronson Arroyo, to a win at home versus the Chicago Cubs. Arroyo has pitched particularly well at Great American Ball Park: in five starts, he’s posted a 3-1 record and a 2.94 ERA. By contrast, he’s 1-3 on the road with a 3.71 ERA. He’ll also be comfortable against the hitters the Cubs have to offer. He’s faced members of the Chicago roster 169 times and Cubs hitters have a paltry .196 batting average to show for their effort.
Cubs starter Scott Feldman doesn’t have the same advantages in this game. On the road, he hasn’t been as successful as at home. (He’s 1-2 with a 3.22 ERA when away and 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA when at Wrigley.) He also has little experience against the Cincinnati line-up he’ll face: beyond Shin-Soo Choo, he hasn’t faced a single regular starter. Against a poor hitting team that might be an advantage for the pitcher, but against the Reds – a club currently ranked second in the National League in runs per game – it’ll be a disadvantage. Take Cincinnati at 1.65 for the win.