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Nationals Stock Watch: Fister on the rise

May 22, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today
We take a look at the Nationals’ past week, at a glance:
Record: 3-3
Team slash: .233/.287/.333
Team ERA:  2.61
Runs per game:  5.16

STOCK UP 

Doug Fister, SP: 1-0/2.57 ERA/1.00 WHIP 

After a tough first start in Oakland, Fister has bounced back and showed the Nationals exactly why they traded for him in the offseason. The 30-year old sinker-baller has won his last two starts, allowing a combined three earned runs over 14 innings of work with 11 strikeouts to just one walk. Fister’s emergence in the rotation couldn’t have come a better time, as the Nats put Gio Gonzalez on the disabled list, so they’ll needed another starter to step up and help stabilize the rotation in Gio’s absence. There’s no doubt that pitching has kept the Nationals in the division race thus far, so they’ll take all the quality starts they can get.

Denard Span, CF: .429 AVG/.488 OBP/.643/4 RBI 

The Nationals’ offense needed a spark plug, and they may have gotten it this past week in Span. Washington’s leadoff man has been on fire recently, notching five hits in Tuesday’s blowout win over Cincinnati, and leading off his next game with a home run in his first at-bat. Span’s recent hot streak has to be a bit reassuring for him, as his struggles had led to some questioning his role as leadoff man earlier in the week. But Matt Williams has stuck by him, and that faith has been rewarded — for now. Let’s see if this is the start of sustained production at the top of the lineup.

Drew Storen, RP: 3 GP/0.00 ERA/1.00 WHIP 

You really could have picked almost any Nationals reliever, as Washington’s bullpen has been stellar all season. It’s no wonder that they have the best bullpen ERA in the majors at 2.13. But Storen gets the nod here because this season he’s been as consistent as he’s been in quite a while. He threw three more shutout innings this last week and lowered his season ERA to 1.17, and has allowed just two runs all year. We’ll repeat that: He’s allowed two runs all year. That stat pretty much speaks for itself.

STOCK DOWN

Ross Detwiler, RP:  3.1 IP/10.80 ERA/2.40 WHIP 

The one Nationals reliever who is having a hard time, however, is Detwiler. He hasn’t been able to carve out a niche since moving to the bullpen, and as a result, has yet to really flourish. He had another tough week, allowing four runs in his last two outings combined, and has now allowed a run or more in four out his last five appearances. Detwiler’s nebulous role in the bullpen is definitely one of the more confounding storylines of the season. But luckily for the Nationals, it hasn’t come back to haunt them just yet.

Gio Gonzalez, SP:  3.0 IP/15.00 ERA/3.00 WHIP/Shoulder Injury

Every week, it seems like we here at Stock Watch have to discuss another key piece of the Nationals’ puzzle going on the disabled list, and it’s no different this time around. After a rough showing against the Mets over the weekend, it was clear that Gonzalez was not right, and the team announced shortly afterward that he’d go on the 15-day DL due of shoulder inflammation. Even before his most recent outing, he’d been struggling for a few starts, so you wonder how long the shoulder had been bothering prior to him landing on the DL.

Danny Espinosa, 2B: .190 AVG/.261 OBP/8 K

After a solid start to the season, Espinosa has tailed off a bit in recent weeks. His longtime bugaboo — striking out — has reared its ugly head once again, and his offense is suffering as a result. Espinosa has now gone hitless in four out of his last seven games, striking out 12 times in that span and walking just once. On the season, he has a 49 strikeouts to just five walks, a ratio that must improve if he is ever to evolve as a hitter this season.

  1. Danny - May 22, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Espinosa evolve as a hitter!?

    I giggled.

    • senators5 - May 22, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      He is what he is, a late inning defensive replacement. Nothing more nothing less. His Ks will mount as pitchers get more serious down the stretch, especially the backwards ones.

      • veejh - May 22, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        In Danny’s defense, that last backwards K by Chapman yesterday to end the game was a ball.

  2. veejh - May 22, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    I disagree about Detwiler’s stock going down. Doesn’t down imply that the stock was once up?

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      Even penny stocks can drop off the market entirely.

  3. Hiram Hover - May 22, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Ian isn’t back to where we want him yet, but he is on the rise.

    Mar/Apr: .232/.269/.375. 76 wRC+, 30.3% K rate
    May: .232/.293/.420, 97 wRC+, 20% K rate

    If you looked only at the BA, you’d think nothing had changed, but the other #s tell a different story. His bad start got so much press that I think his improvement at least deserves mention.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      Desi and Rendon are tied for team lead in RBIs. Werth in the 3 hole is the guy who has to step it up. He’s been sliding backwards and it’s pretty clear that they don’t need to pitch to him and Jayson has to take his walks. They are just trying to paint the outside on Werth.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        In Jayson Werth’s case, I’m left with the impression that he’s pressing, trying to do too much to make up for the absence of Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        Absolutely. That’s what it is. He’s trying to carry the team and chasing pitches in the process. The Reds shut him down most of the series. I’m sure the Pirates took note.

        Jayson has to take his walks and play it smart. I’d move Desi to the 4 and Ramos to the #5 and hope that helps.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Eugene, add to that the absence of Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper AND Adam LaRoche.

      • Hiram Hover - May 22, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Good points. It will be interesting to see how ALR’s return on Sunday affects things.

  4. chaz11963 - May 22, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    It’s a bit concerning that the poor hitting was against largely mediocre pitching. The Nats schedule continues to be fairly easy, whereas the Braves have a hard patch, which has allowed the Nat keep pace with them. That is going to change in about 2 weeks when they begin a tough stretch: @SF @STL (v HOU) vATL @ MIL. They will likely lose ground unless the hitting improves. We get ALR back and Ramos will eventually get hot again, but it’s unlikely Zim and Harper will be back. The big question is whether the bench can hold the fort until the cavalry arrives.

    • adcwonk - May 22, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      It’s a bit concerning that the poor hitting was against largely mediocre pitching…

      True, that. But there was decent hitting against an awesome pitcher the night before (Cueto).

      I think, really, the story is just: inconsistent hitting — and (to repeat a 1000-time-told-story) that’s because we’re relying on backups to Harper, RZim, and ALR (and a not on-track-yet Ramos).

  5. Sonny G 10 - May 22, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    I’ve been a big fan of Detwiler since he was drafted, but I’m starting to concede he may never reach the expectations I had for him. We have younger pitchers that will be coming up soon and there may not be a place for Det unless he really shines in the bull pen. He just doesn’t seem to be making the transition very well, but that may be because he doesn’t have a well defined role. Right now, his stock is down so not much good in a trade. We probably have to hang onto him for a while and hope for better results.

    • veejh - May 22, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      He’s a wasted roster spot at this point. What’s the plan? Keep rolling him out occasionally, in low lev spots and hope he shows a little improvement? If another team is interested, it’s not going to be for a BP spot, it’s going to be for a #5 spot. I don’t think it’s worth keeping him at this point. Chalk it up as a loss, trade him for whatever we can get, and fill his spot w Mattheus, for now. Winning is way more important than raising his stock to get slightly more back in trade.

      • jd - May 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        veejh,

        So if you were a stock trader you would take the strategy of buying high and selling low?

        You have a left hander who can throw 93 – 94. You have a commodity which will in time be attractive to someone. If you don’t believe me lookup Oliver Perez. He is taking up the 25th spot on the roster, it’s not that big of a deal. The Nats lost the 15t inning game not because of Det, they lost it because they couldn’t get a run against a horrid Reds pen in 5 innings.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        Detwiler for a brief period in 2012 made everyone in baseball take notice. They couldn’t figure out his inside fastball with tilt until 2013 when they made him look like a hack.

        Since he was drafted I never saw what was special about Ross except for the velo. I saw a relief pitcher from the start but Rizzo never wanted to give up on him. Fastball and curveball and a 2 trick pony is what he was and slowly he became almost exclusively a fastball pitcher with a lousy curvey slurve.

        Those enamored with his gift of velo still believed he was a star. I never bought it until this new Det emerged in late summer 2012.

        Somehow he found himself in July 2012 and was effective with a combination of velo, movement and location on his fastball. Unfortunately for Ross and the Nats in 2013, the location and movement eluded him.

        Best to use him as a LOOGY and slowly give him more responsibility as he earns it. His effort and his demeanor just is not healthy for this team. He looks so unhappy and in turn the fanbase sees it and are upset. Not a great situation.

      • veejh - May 22, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        JD…how much more is to be gained and at what expense? All hypotheticals…I just wanna win.

      • veejh - May 22, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        …..and if every stock trader had the vision to buy low and sell high, everyone in the US would be rich. Unfortunately, not every scenario works out this way. No matter how this ends up being cut, it will be a loss, guaranteed. The question is how much.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        “Best to use him as a LOOGY and slowly give him more responsibility as he earns it.”
        =========================
        I would put a period after LOOGY. Right-handed batters have a 109 OPS+ against Ross Detwiler, for left-handed batters it’s 71. Those are career/relative stats. In the much smaller sample size of 2014, the split is 123 vs. 48. Don’t try to turn him into a one-inning or two-inning pitcher. Let him be the LOOGY. Period, full stop.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Eugene, I guess you are agreeing with me on Det? Loogy only and let him earn more?

        It’s not optimal but you have to start with making a pitcher effective in the best situation.

        Other choice is give him a blister and put him on the DL so he can rehab in AAA and get his head out of his a$$.

      • Hiram Hover - May 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Ghost and Eugene – interesting discussion.

        The LOOGY idea makes sense to me, but so far they’ve used him mostly as a long reliever/mop up man.

        So, question – do you think they’re reluctant to use him as a LOOGY, or that he doesn’t have the conditioning/routine yet for those short, frequent appearances?

        This week was the first time they used him 2 days in a row. Even then, they were appearances of 1 and 1.1 IP, so not real LOOGY situations.

  6. Danny - May 22, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Robbie Ray 5 earned through 2 so far today.

  7. bowdenball - May 22, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Espinosa’s game has “tailed off a bit” the same way that Kathleen Turner’s looks have “tailed off a bit.”

  8. David Proctor - May 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Robbie Ray is getting lit up today. He’s thrown as many balls as strikes and has given up 5 runs in 3 innings. Falling behind just about every hitter, getting into a ton of 3 ball counts, 4 walks. He’s fortunate he only gave up 5 runs because he just had the bases loaded, but got a double play ball.

    • David Proctor - May 22, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Make that 7 runs now. Still hasn’t got an out in the 4th.

    • NatsLady - May 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      So, so far the trade is even? I don’t count Lombo (who brought them nothing). Maybe Krol is the star of the deal?
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/krolia01.shtml

      • Hiram Hover - May 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        So, so far the trade is even?

        I love it! We need a real time index that could be included as a widget in Mark’s sidebar, for every pitch, play, etc.

        On a more serious note about Krol – his ERA is sterling (1.62) but his inherited runner rate is not – 5 of 13 have scored. That was a problem for him last year with the Nats too – 7 of 10 inherited runners scored.

      • NatsLady - May 22, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        On Krol, yes the inherited runner stat is no good for a LOOGY type. I’d have to look more deeply at how he’s been used.

  9. langleyclub - May 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    While he’s my favorite Nat, think that Anthony Rendon deserves stock down mention as well. Over his last 5 games (he sat out one), he is 2 for 25 with 1 RBI. He has been hitting in tough luck as he has only 2 Ks over that span giving him a surreal BABIP of .125 over that span. Hope that he has a bust-out series in Pittsburgh.

    • NatsLady - May 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      He is bottom on the WAR list for the last two weeks, according to Fangraphs (I put that in my post) but it’s just in the stats section. Maybe I should highlight it, but I usually do that in the Nats Stats posts and I don’t do those mid-week.

    • Hiram Hover - May 22, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Agreed–I’d love a Pittsburgh bust out too.

      I do think it’s worth pointing out that Rendon has drawn 5 walks in the last week, so his OBP (.333) is actually pretty good.

      What interests me there is not the #s per se, but his willingness/ability to draw the walk when that’s how he’s getting pitched. His walk rate was pretty low in April, and I think this is a sign of him adjusting to the adjustments that pitchers are making to him.

    • adcwonk - May 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      Thanks!

  10. David Proctor - May 22, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Baseball America on Michael Taylor:

    Michael Taylor, of, Harrisburg (Nationals): He’s on fire. With a home run on Wednesday, Taylor, who tore up the Puerto Rican league, now sits in the top power spot in the Eastern League. That’s huge, especially for a guy who’s earned comps to Adam Jones and Mike Cameron in the past. If you add power to package that already includes excellent speed and defense, well you’ve really got something there. There are questions about his ability to hit offspeed stuff, but he’s doing a fine job answering critics thus far in his first taste of Double-A, especially this month, when he’s hitting an eye-popping .348/.419/.697.

    • Sonny G 10 - May 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      This sounds great.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    “@Ken_Rosenthal: Report from @drewdavison says Prince seriously considering season-ending surgery. New MRIs being taken later today, per source.”

  12. tcostant - May 23, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    I like comparing this to stock, I will let the boards here group the Nationals players into Blue Chip, Growth, Value and Pink Sheets (almost worthless). Okay go.

    • tcostant - May 23, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      Blue Chip: Werth, Stras, Zimmerman
      Growth: Zimmerman, Harper, Rendon
      Value: Rorak
      Penny Stock: Det

      You get the idea

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 71 53 --
ATLANTA 66 60 6.0
MIAMI 63 62 8.5
NEW YORK 59 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 55 71 17.0
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Diamondbacks at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 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.

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