The Nationals rotation includes Doug Fister, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez, but this year, it's Jordan Zimmermann who has risen to the occasion. The addition of Fister during the offseason was seen as putting the rotation over the top, but it was Zimmermann who was selected for the All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
It is Zimmermann's second All-Star appearance - at least, it would have been. Last night, in his fourth inning against the Phillies, Zimmermann threw a pitch and immediately called the trainers out to the mound. He left the game with a right bicep strain that, while he believes it isn't "anything major," it will remove him from participating in the Midsummer Classic.
However, this created a slight issue, as Jayson Stark of ESPN pointed out:
Absurd that first-place #Nationals won't have an all star with Zimmermann out. Fister, Soriano, Strasburg all worthy choices.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 12, 2014
Zimmermann will be replaced by the Marlins' Henderson Alvarez.
The thing about Zimmermann's selection was that it was the only one from the Nationals roster. Washington, a first place team featuring heavy hitters and a stacked hurling staff, was one of the more overlooked teams when it came to the NL's best. Bryce Harper has missed time, and Jayson Werth's numbers are down, but as Stark says, there are other options available.
Strasburg leads the NL in strikeouts with 140, and is second in K/9 as well as K/BB. Closer Rafael Soriano maintains a 1.00 ERA and 0.83 WHIP through 36 appearances. Third baseman Anthony Rendon (.283/.339/.486) almost made the cut, but lost the NL Final Fan Vote to Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs.
It's the heartless nature of the process, apparently, and for a team who could actually be affected by the outcome - as far as the home field advantage in the World Series goes - the Nationals are quite unnder represented.