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WATG? Zach Day
Zach Day’s Vitals
Right-handed starting pitcher, 27, 6-4, 216, bats R. Career 18-19, 4.01 ERA. In his fourth season.
A sinkerball pitcher who can dominate if the ball sinks. If not, it’s a home run derby.
Zach Day Rundown
Day was having a breakthrough season for the Expos two years ago before a series of odd incidents—getting tossed from a game for a foreign substance on his pitching hand (it turned out to be Super Glue he’s put on a blister on his finger), a cyst on his right kneecap, and a torn rotator cuff caused by a collision at first base—derailed it. Then last year he got off to a good start before going on the DL with tendonitis and, after recovering from that, with a broken finger suffered in a bunt attempt. If you’re at spring training, he should be easy to recognize; look for the guy who’s laying down dozens of bunts a day to improve his technique.
When he was on the field last year, he was much more impressive than his 5-10 record would suggest. His run support was dead last in the majors last year at 2.47 runs per game. And he’ll be glad to bid farewell to Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico; his ERA there was a hefty 6.52.
He’s a classic sinkerball pitcher, yielding twice as many ground balls as fly balls. Look for the RFK groundskeeper to set the mower blade a bit higher and water down the dirt in front of home plate a little longer when Day is the scheduled starter.
He walked about 3.5 batters per nine innings last year, an acceptable number if he gets enough batters to erase the runners by grounding into double plays. It’s a problem, though, if he gives up too many flies over the fence. He gave up a homer every nine innings last year, not terrible but up from the previous season. If that trend continues, he’ll be in trouble.
One thing that Day is known for is being a quick worker. If you’re thinking about catching a game one night but you’re worried about being out too late, look to see if Day’s the starter. If he is, and he goes deep into the game, you should be home in plenty of time to catch the 11 o’clock news.
Zach Day is one of the keys to the Nats’ season. If he’s effective in his role as the third starter, the rotation will should round into a decent one. However, too much time for Day on the DL, or if he throws his sinker up in the strike zone or can’t find the strike zone with his curve, there will be a big hole in the middle of the rotation. The Nationals simply don’t have enough pitching depth to succeed under those circumstances.
2005 Down and Up
Downside: 8-13, 4.95 ERA
Upside: 15-10, 3.75 ERA
To find Zach Day’s career stats on Baseball-Reference.com, go to http://www.baseball-reference.com/d/dayza01.shtml