Thru 6: Tied 1-1

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Jordan Zimmermann has the talent and the arsenal to be a really good big league pitcher. But he’s going to have to cut down on his high pitch counts and learn how to put away batters a little more for it to happen.

Zimmermann allowed only one run tonight against the Blue Jays. But that run came on a two-out single by No. 8 hitter Rod Barajas in the sixth inning, after Zimmermann had gotten ahead 0-2 in the count. By that point, the rookie’s pitch count was up to 106, so Manny Acta couldn’t even let him finish the inning.

In his 11 starts with Washington now, Zimmermann has pitched beyond the sixth inning only once. That’s not because he’s pitched poorly and hasn’t deserved to remain in the game. That’s because his pitch count has been too high to allow him to continue. Certainly something he needs to work on.

That sixth-inning run tonight prevented Zimmermann again from earning his first win sincec April 26. The Nats have scored only once off the Blue Jays’ staff — on an RBI fielder’s choice by Zimmermann — despite several opportunities for more. But it’s now up to the bullpens to decide this game.

Meanwhile, Scott Olsen struggled in his third rehab start tonight. Pitching for Class AAA Syracuse against Columbus, the left-hander was supposed to go five innings and throw 80 pitches. But he only lasted 3 2/3 innings and wound up allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, with three walks, two strikeouts, a wild pitch and a home run.

The Nats now face an interesting decision with Olsen. The plan was to activate him after this start. But do you really want to bring him back after such a ragged outing? Especially when there’s not really a rush because both Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen (one of whom would be sent down once Olsen returns) have pitched well. We’ll have to see what the club decides to do.

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Mark Zuckerman

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