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GREAT START OVERSHADOWS BAD END

[August 1th] -- Superman is back in the building.

I have to admit, I am stunned. I wrote yesterday that I had grown weary of counting on players that were always injured to help lead the Nationals to the promised land. Regardless of how good Shawn Hill can be, no matter how many times that Manny Acta says he is "the ace," I went into last night's game expecting to see a struggling pitcher. Like Jason Bergman before him, I thought that Hill, 26, was going to prove his early season success to be nothing more than "beginners luck." I mean, the Nationals just don't have quality pitchers fall into their lap like that.

My bad.

Hill was brilliant, allowing one hit (which really wasn't) and one walk while striking out seven. He was unhittable. It was as if the past three months were but a moment in time, time that changed nothing in the young man's now valuable arm.

If Hill remains healthy, the Nationals may not have to enter the free-agent market this winter in search for a starting pitcher. The team will be much closer to contention if Hill can make 35 starts and win 15+ games. I'm not ready to anoint him as both healed and healer, I'm a whole lot closer than I was this time yesterday.
Zimmerman Miscues: There are many who are concerned with Ryan Zimmerman's defensive problems this year. Though his number of errors are up this year, so are his amazing plays. It looks like a typical "sophomore slump." I have seen countless hot-shot rookies over the years who, in their second year, seemed to have read their press clippings and believed they could simply "phone it in." Zimmerman was so successful last year that he probably is not as mentally in tune with parts of his defense. Those web-gems keep coming because he doesn't have time to think about what he's doing. When he thinks, however, he gets in trouble.
Remember his struggles, because you'll never see them again after this year.

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