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Nats who’s hot/who’s not – 8/28

Aug 28, 2013, 12:44 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

The Nationals’ past week, at a glance:

Record: 5-1
Team slash: .296/.360/.473
Team ERA: 4.58
Runs per game: 6.7
Opponent runs per game: 4.8
Opponent slash: .273/.327/.429

HOT

Bryce Harper, OF: 9-25/1 HR/6 RBI/.467 OBP/1.067 OPS 

There he is. Riding a 10-game hitting streak — and with multiple hits in six of those games — Harper has regained the form that earned him last season’s NL Rookie of the Year award and a place among the game’s all-time great youngsters. Forget opposing pitchers — even Harper can’t get himself out of this rhythm, as he stayed in Sunday’s loss against Kansas City after fouling a ball, hard, off his foot. He drove in two that game with a home run that gave him 40 for his career before age 21; only Hall of Famer Mel Ott and Tony Conigliaro had more before 21.

Denard Span, OF: 9-25/1 HR/3 RBI/.429 OBP/1.109 OPS

Sure, it’s a product of a small sample and two speedy triples, but Span is actually out-slugging much of the team right now (including, as you can see, Harper). He’s paid to get on base and score runs (he has five of those over this stretch), so the extra-base hits are always gravy — and it’s always fun to see him muscle one over the wall. That home run boosted his season total to three; all have come in the past 27 games.

Ian Desmond, SS: 8-20/2 HR/4 RBI/.429 OBP/1.129 OPS

Speaking of homers, Desmond crushed a pair over the last week to bring his season total to 19. He also snagged a bag (his 17th), putting him in great position for another 20/20 season if he can swipe a few more over the season’s final month. His dingers came in consecutive games against the Royals, and though the second one was in a losing effort, he absolutely crushed it — the kind of homer that makes you think there should be a second fence for bonus points.

NOT

Anthony Rendon, 2B: 3-17/1 XBH/2 RBI/.238 OBP/.473 OPS

One Nats hitter not joining in any reindeer games at the plate is Rendon, the rookie currently manning the keystone for Washington. At times after his call-up, Rendon looked to be among the team’s best hitters; however, he has scuffled of late, and his season average has dipped all the way to .257. That’s not making anyone pine for Danny Espinosa or Steve Lombardozzi, but he’s a bit of a weak link right now. Expect him to hit out of it though, and if the Nationals make a push for the second wild card (they’re only 7 back!), a resurgent Rendon could be key.

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 0-0/3.1 IP/7 ER/3.00 WHIP/1 K 

Gio just didn’t have it against the Royals. Failing to get out of the fourth inning, he let a baker’s dozen on base, and seven of them found their way across the plate. A common thread between his two worst starts this season (including his 3.1-inning, 10 earned run outing last month in Detroit): batters are not swinging and missing. Of his 77 pitches against the Royals, only two fooled batters; a typical quality Gio start features about 10 such instances.

Craig Stammen, RP: 0-1/4 IP/2 ER/1.75 WHIP/3 K

Unfortunately, Stammen was saddled with the only loss of the Nationals’ otherwise very successful week. It was one he deserved, however: Five Royals reached against him, two scored, and it all could have been avoided if he had just covered first base on a grounder to Adam LaRoche with two out in the eighth. That mental error, coupled with Ryan Zimmerman’s inexplicable wandering from third base on subsequent grounder, lead directly to the loss. Paging Tom Emanski…

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Steve Roney’s assessment under Stammen is brutal but true. Paging Tom Emanski. LOL

  2. pjnat - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    In my humble opinion, Soriano should beat Stammen out of being on the NOT list as he has shown greater consistency in being subpar.

    • veejh - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Soriano needs to be on the top of that list…..

  3. Dave - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    I had to Google Tom Emanski, but having done so and reminded myself who he is…

    Uh, yeah. Maybe we should get these guys the entire set of Emanski fundamentals DVDs or something. That was pretty bad on Sunday.

  4. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    pjnat and veejh, you guys realize that this post is a review of the last week (Aug 21-27), right? Soriano’s last blown save was back on Aug. 17. His numbers for the past week (4 games) were 3.1 IP, 7 H, 2 SO, ERA 2.70, with two saves. And we won all four games. Not great, and no one can stop you from beating up on him from now until the end of the season. Six blown saves is too many. But you might as well say that Danny Espinosa should be on the NOT list.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2013 at 2:36 PM

      Davey himself said it about Soriano that he doesn’t have the bite on his slider like he used to. He threw a hangar to Ruggiano and luck bailed him out as Ruggiano just got on top of it.

      There’s a 90% conversion rate to separate the good closers from the bad ones and not much else matters. Soriano is below 90%.

      The good news, if there is some, is that the weaker schedule has teams with weak offenses and that should help Soriano like it did yesterday.

      If I’m Davey I go a game at a time and mix up the back end of the bullpen based on matchup. I don’t call it bullpen by committee rather just more “smart ball”. In the end, just get the W’s and a set of Tom Emanski DVDs for Ryan and Stammen and Gio.

    • pjnat - Aug 29, 2013 at 8:04 AM

      Danny Espinosa should be on the NOT list!

  5. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Don’t have much time to post right now, but there is an article in fangraphs (something like “why you need to pay attention to playoff odds”) that says the Nats are at 13% because they have such a weak schedule ahead of them. Maybe someone can find that article and post the link.

    GO NATS!!! Win tonight. Increase the odds!!!

  6. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Here is the link to the percentages using fangraphs methods–actually 12.5% or 1 in 8. OK, then.

    playoff odds

    http://www.fangraphs.com/coolstandings.aspx

  7. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Here’s the article NL referenced. Hope for all the optimists out there:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/why-you-should-care-about-playoff-odds/

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      That’s slightly better than a 1 in 8 chance. That’s how huge that Royals loss on Sunday was.

  8. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Ghost, you know I’m a charter member of the “hate the cult of the closer” club. But don’t you think Soriano is most likely to pitch well if he goes through the routine each night that he’s accustomed to? Do you really think our chances of winning games will increase if he’s told to get ready an inning or two earlier to face weaker hitters because Davey thinks the heart of the lineup will come up in the 9th and wants Clip to face them? And what happens if he or Storen give up several hits and have to face those toughter hitters anyway?

    I know some folks would rather he never pitch another inning. But that’s not an option.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      222, I know where you’re coming from but last night’s game was won in the 8th. No team is a pushover and I like how managers rely on matchups with their bullpens. Soriano has the title of closer so it doesn’t make sense pitching him in the 8th but if Strasburg goes 7 then maybe Storen takes the 8th and look at matchups for the 9th.

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Rockies won 21 of 22 in 2007, won NL West in a one-and-done w/ AZ, as I recall. So there’s precedent. Their streak started when they were 69W-70L.

    Why am I so skeptical? First, this Nats team has been abysmal at executing the fundamentals — defense, base running, hitting w/ RISP, Ks, weak at bats, holding runners on base, throwing strike one, you name it. Second, the lack of accountability among a number of players — “we’ll come out of it,” it’s early,” “it’s just that a bunch of guys all slumped at the same time,” “he’s been injured,” and so forth. Third, they’ve really stunk against the best teams — Atlanta, St. Louis, LA. Fourth, the manager at times seems completely perplexed about what he should be doing.

    Over approximately the last three weeks they have played some of their best baseball — except for the pitchers giving up nearly five runs a game. Can they possibly pull off a streak that approaches the Rockies? They have the talent — not as much talent as some people on this blog think they have but enough to rub out the weenies remaining on the schedule. But if they do it will require a transformation that has for so long this season seemed to be impossible.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      “Why am I so skeptical? First, this Nats team has been abysmal at executing the fundamentals — defense, base running, hitting w/ RISP, Ks, weak at bats, holding runners on base, throwing strike one, you name it. Second, the lack of accountability among a number of players — “we’ll come out of it,” it’s early,” “it’s just that a bunch of guys all slumped at the same time,” “he’s been injured,” and so forth. Third, they’ve really stunk against the best teams — Atlanta, St. Louis, LA. Fourth, the manager at times seems completely perplexed about what he should be doing.

      Theo, not to gainsay your very reasonable skepticism — 21-1 is unreasonable on the face of it — but I wonder how the 69-70 Rockies looked in terms of the same markers you cite? I don’t recall them looking very good. They were coming off a 76-86 season, with nothing much to look like they were going to get crazy.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      You mention the records against the Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers. Look at all the 1 run and extra inning losses. Costly errors, bullpen meltdowns, and manager mistakes galore.

      Davey is finally managing again until he mentioned Roark starting in place of Ohlendorf.

  10. Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    reposting
    Deuces, how’s this for a start?
    NIDO+ blog

    • Candide - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      Nice!

  11. raleighnat - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    I think with the schedule they can do it. Its a long shot but enough of a shot to stay tuned.

  12. jd - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    The Mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 to play (2007 I think) so it can be done. At this stage I am not really interested in numbers and odds. I just want to wing 1 more game in a row and then we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

  13. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Sofa, it looks great! Very impressive. Love the pictures you found for the different sections too. I liked it so much I tried to leave a comment, which of course didn’t work. I say go for it, and hopefully Mark can add it to the blogroll so everyone who visits can enjoy the great store of Nats lore and humor we’ve all created.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 28, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      I have comments turned off. I can add you as an editor if I have your email address. Look for a text from me.

  14. Phil Karp - Aug 28, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    TyMo should be on the HOT list. He’s been raking since coming back to the big club.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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