May 22, 2014, 12:18 PM EST
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.
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.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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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