Jun 6, 2014, 11:25 AM EST
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.
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.
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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