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Nationals Stock Watch

Jun 6, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today
We take a look at the Nationals’ past week, at a glance:

Record: 5-1
Team slash: .303/.367/.498
Team ERA:  1.33
Runs per game: 6.3

STOCK UP 

Ryan Zimmerman, LF: .364 AVG/2 XBH in three games (Return from thumb injury)

The Nationals got a much needed boost to their lineup this week as Zimmerman made his long awaited return to the team after being sidelined with a thumb injury. His return to the lineup is just what the doctor ordered, and it looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. In his first game back he went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI, and followed that up hits in each of his next two games. With Zimmerman back, the lineup is finally starting to get healthy and establish some consistency, and there’s no doubt that Zimmerman should be a big part of that. Sure, it’ll be interesting to see how Matt Williams juggles the lineup to keep him playing everyday now that he’s playing left field (especially when Bryce Harper comes back), but so far it looks like Zimmerman’s bat is just as valuable as ever.

Anthony Rendon, 3B: .423 AVG/3 HR/6 RBI/.729 SLG 

We here at Stock Watch owe Anthony Rendon an apology. Last week, we took note of his May slump, and mentioned how he would be tasked with reacting to the adjustments pitchers were making against him at the plate. And what does the Nationals’ third baseman do? How about hit three home runs with six RBI to go along with posting a ridiculous 1.234 OPS for the week. Uh, yeah, consider the slump over.

Denard Span, CF: .444 AVG/.464 OBP/8 R

With the offense’s resurgence over the last week, you can go up and down the lineup to find hitters who are finding their groove. But perhaps the most important piece to it all is Span, who is becoming the table setter the team hoped he’d be when they traded for him two offseasons ago. Over the last week, he’s shown all the qualities of a classic leadoff man: Patience at the plate, ability to put the ball in play, and being a threat on the base paths. Players have said after Thursday’s win over the Phillies that Span is the key to the offense clicking, and after the last week it’s hard to disagree.

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 2-0/13.0 IP/1.38 ERA

Strasburg is finally beginning to resemble the ace the Nationals expect him to be. This past week, not only did he pick up a pair of victories, but he was fairly dominant in doing so. He is back to becoming more of a strikeout pitcher with good command, as posted a 20-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last two starts combined. He now leads the team in wins and ERA, and is tied for the lead in all of baseball with Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price in strikeouts. He’s been able to limit damage in the first inning — one of his biggest hurdles early on in the season — and his ERA has steadily dropped with each start he’s made. Is this when Strasburg finally establishes himself as one of the game’s top righties? It’s too early to tell, but at the very least, it looks like he’s rebounded nicely after a tough start to his season.

Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 1-0/7.0 IP/0.00 ERA 

Strasburg’s not the only starting pitcher who had a good week. The entire rotation has pitched well recently, posting quality starts in every game over the last week, so there were plenty of candidates to choose from in this section. But Jordan Zimmermann deserves a nod here, especially considering he was coming off of a tough May in which he allowed three runs or more in four straight starts. His first June start was a great way to rebound, as he earned a win vs. Philadelphia while hurling seven shutout frames. The Nats need Zimmermann find his old self, so it was encouraging to see him come out with a bounce back start.

STOCK DOWN

Nate McLouth, OF: .167 AVG/.167 OBP/.167 SLG 

When you have the type of week the Nationals did, it’s hard to find players who really struggled. But unfortunately for Nate McLouth, it’s been the same old story the entire season: Limited opportunities to go along with limited contributions. It looked like the Nats’ outfielder was coming out of his early season funk, posting a four-hit game a few weeks back, but he followed it up with a pair of 0-for-4’s. Not only that, but with Zimmerman now back in the lineup as a left fielder, when will McLouth get playing time? The Nats paid McLouth too much in the offseason (two years, $10.75 million) to just be a late inning defensive replacement, so he’ll have to find a way to earn more time.

 

  1. Hiram Hover - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Some folks were barking about Desi getting the day off yesterday, but his line for the last week has been mixed at best:

    2-17, with 3 BBs and 8Ks for a slash line of .118/.250/.471.

    The good news is that both hits were HRs, thus the high slugging %.

  2. jd - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    HH,

    Mixed is pretty generous. It’s been bad and the day off was well warranted. Werth is in serious need of a few days off as well. What I was hoping for especially if Espinosa is doing somewhat Ok is a situation where each of Desmond, Rendon and Zim gets a day off with Espi filling in for all of them but this implies some games by Zim at 3rd base and I’m not sure that’s happening any time soon.

    When you start inserting Frandsen, Lobaton, Dobbs you get a drop in production which we all witnessed over the last couple of months.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      Completely agree about resting guys, and that Werth looks like another who could use it.

      I was looking at the schedule, and the Nats have a pretty brutal pace of play coming up thru the end of the month. They’re 3 games into a 13 game stretch without a day off; get one day off, and then start a stretch of 12 straight days of play, ending with a doubleheader in Chicago on 6/28.

      It would be great if they could get Bryce back towards the end of that stretch for a shot of adrenaline, but better not to rush him, which makes it even more important to rest and pace the players they have.

      One good bit of news–we play the Braves here in mid June, for the tail end of a stretch when they have 17 games without a day off. Hope they are completely gassed.

  3. sjm308 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Agreed that our bench can not come close to providing what the starters can, but what bench does. I like the idea of Desmond getting a day off every two weeks or so and Williams has shown that he will also rest Rendon. I think Lobaton is more than serviceable as a backup and of course he is no Ramos but I am ok with what he brings.
    I also agree about Werth and don’t think he will be upset about resting. This is just what we brought McClouth here for so I hope they keep running him out there.

    Am I being too negative to be hoping for a 5-5 record on this road trip?

    Go Nats!!

    • veejh - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      Yes, too negative. Sweep the Pads, split w SF, and 2-1 vs Cards. This happens and we’re in excellent shape moving forward.

    • flnatsfan - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      You’re not being too negative. I would be happy with a 5-5 trip as tough as it is going to be and on the West Coast. Win the series against the Padres, whatever we can get against the Giants, and then win the series against the Cards. That would work for me.

    • flnatsfan - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      You’re not being too negative. I would be happy with a 5-5 trip as tough as it is going to be and on the West Coast. Win the series against the Padres, whatever we can get against the Giants, and then win the series against the Cards. That would work for me.

    • snerdblurter - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      I think 5-5 is realistic. 6-4 would be great.

      Lets not get too carried away – a couple tough losses in the next week and that “Zimmerman bump” could easily run out of steam. I didnt read the column this morning, but I heard Boz was basically giving the Nats the division based solely on the last three games, and a medal of honor for overcoming the injuries in the first few months. I really hope it was tongue-in-cheek…

      • veejh - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Now is the time to show we’re the real deal. 5-5 would show that….we’re…..just the same ol same ol.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        Not that I’m particularly inclined to defend Boz, but that’s not really what he said.

        Going back to what record we can expect or hope for: 5-5 would be ok. 6-4 would obviously be better. If veejh’s 7-3 is aspirational, fine. But this business of setting expectations like they’re somehow demands (the team MUST go 6-4, 7-3, etc etc) is unproductive and just an invitation to D&G.

        The main thing for us fans is to hope for wins and celebrate them when they come. And also, build time into our schedule for cat naps–a lot of late east coast start times coming up in the next week!

      • veejh - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        HH, I disagree. Continuing on without expectations is a recipe for mediocrity.

      • veejh - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:35 PM

        …..and Im not talking about us as fans, I mean the team, but as a fan, I have expectations, too. Sooner or later you’ve got to show consistency and the ability to pound good teams, and crush the teams we should be beating.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        Do you remember in the opening sequence to the Simpsons, where there is a brief scene of Maggie and Marge in the car?

        Well, our expectations are like Maggie’s steering wheel.

      • adcwonk - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        No — he’s saying the Nats are in prime position because:

        (a) they’re only one game out after all those injuries
        (b) the Braves and the rest of the East look fairly unimpressive

        The idea being — if the Nats can do this with injuries, then surely they’ll be somewhat better after everybody’s back.

        I will point out — that Baseball Prospectus says the same thing (by implication — with numbers). It projects 86 wins for the Nats, finishing two games ahead of the Braves.

        See http://www.baseballprospectus.com/odds/

  4. NatsLady - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    What you want to do is not go 2-8 or 3-7 on the road trip (or worse). Anything better than that is fine. People who worry about the difference between 4-6, 5-5, or 6-4 are talking about two games. Your goal is to go apporx .500 on the road, and a West Coast trip is REALLY on the road. SF is on a roll, and who knows when the Cards will turn it on? Hopefully not when we’re there. And can’t take the Pads for granted with Cashner coming off the DL.

    Seriously, look in the mirror, fellas, and party in November. If you want to see the sights in San Francisco, there are planes that fly there in the off-season…

    • David Proctor - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Tyson Ross tonight isn’t an easy customer either. He’s been their best pitcher this year.

      • DaveB - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        yep … only 1 ER given up in 5 of his last 6 starts

    • jd - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      This is why I hate looking at 10 game bundles and projecting/expecting x wins etc. I think the Nats have a good chance to win every time out given the quality of their starters and their lineup. At the same time you never know when you run into a buzz saw on the opposition.

      I think projecting a sweep on the road is risky business in any event unless you are playing the Phills or Tampa and even then. What I hope is for a win tonight and then we’ll go from there.

  5. Another Tyler - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    I noticed that Rendon and Freddie Freeman have essentially the same stats for the year at this point. Freeman has an edge in walks, Rendon has his three steals vs. 0 for Freeman. Same number of RBIs. Freeman has one HR more, but five more strikeouts. Freeman has 63 hits, Rendon has 62.

  6. jd - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    The Padres averages are way down from when they were in DC. Cabrerra and Denorfia were at or above .300 at the time, they are now at .245 and .265 respectively. Only Maybin has respectable numbers. They are however pitching well but on the bright side there we are missing Ian Kennedy who has really pitched well of late.

  7. unkyd59 - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    DINGDINGDING!!!!!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 +0.5
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
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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