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Nationals Stock Watch: Roark standing out

Jun 26, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

We take a look at the Nationals’ past week, at a glance:

Record: 4-3
Team slash: .211/.272/.219
Team ERA: 2.85
Runs per game: 2.85

STOCK UP 

Tanner Roark, SP: 1-0/5.1 IP/1.69 ERA

Roark showed great moxie during his start in the weekend series against the Braves, limiting them to just one earned run in 5.1 innings and earned the win. He wasn’t dominating, but in what has become classic Roark fashion, he was able to consistently get himself out of jam after jam. His style of pitching won’t ever be confused with the likes of Stephen Strasburg or Jordan Zimmermann; he just doesn’t have that kind of overpowering stuff. But the 27-year-old righty is a battler. He fought his way onto the roster late last season and he hasn’t slowed down one bit in 2014. It’s stunning that his seven wins on the year leads the team and that his 2.79 ERA is better than both Strasburg and Zimmermann’s. Who’d have thought at the beginning of the season that between Roark and Doug Fister, the two best starters would be the supposed “back of the rotation” guys?

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 1-0/6 IP/0.00 ERA

Boy, did Gio need a start like the one he had Monday night in Milwaukee. Gonzalez pitched six shutout innings with five strikeouts against one of the National League’s best offenses, helping the Nats earn a 3-0 win. In his second start since coming off the disabled list, he utilized his changeup much more often than he ever had in previous starts, and it flummoxed a lineup known for its aggressive tendencies. It was arguably his best outing of the season (he only had one other start where didn’t allow an earned run) and one the Nationals hope is the start of a rebound for the former 21-game winner.

Ross Detwiler, RP: 1 GP/4.0 IP/0.00 ERA

Anytime a bullpen hurls ten shutout innings in a single game, there are plenty of people worthy of a pat on the back. But Detwiler deserves special consideration here. He’s been the only reliever that hasn’t been able to carve out a niche for himself this year, and has been mostly ineffective whenever Matt Williams handed him the ball. But that wasn’t he case during Tuesday night’s marathon 16-inning victory, where he pitched four shutout frames while keeping the Nats alive long enough to give them a chance to win. It was an outing where he had to call upon his previous experience as a starter, with Williams stretching Detwiler out as long as he could to preserve the rest of the bullpen. He responded with his most impressive outing of the season, and perhaps one that could earn back the manager’s trust in tighter situations moving forward.

Adam LaRoche, 1B: .333 AVG/.455 OBP/.444 SLG

LaRoche continues to rake at a steady pace, as he’s had multi-hit efforts in five out of the last eight games. Combine that with the fact that he’s one of the most patient hitters in this lineup (he walked a team-high six times over the past week) and you can make the case that he, not Anthony Rendon, is the team’s best hitter right now. He currently leads the team in both average and on-base percentage, while also posting respectable power numbers. Sure, Rendon and Ian Desmond may hit the long ball more often, but LaRoche is the consistent presence in the lineup that makes everyone else’s job easier.

STOCK DOWN

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 2 GS/0-1/9.28 ERA/1.88 WHIP

A pretty solid week for the Nationals ended in disappointment, as Strasburg turned in what was by far his worst outing of the year. He got shelled by the Brewers Wednesday afternoon, getting chased from the game after allowing seven runs over 4.2 innings, dropping his record to 6-6. We’re nearing the halfway point of the season, and we’ve only seen Strasburg show glimpses of his old self here and there. He has moments where he dominates, but way too often he still regresses to a pitcher that nibbles and can’t find his command on a consistent basis. He doesn’t rear back and throw heat like he used to, and hitters have timed his fastball and breaking pitches much better than in previous years. Has the league figured him out? Is he not making the proper adjustments? All of the above? Who knows, but right now, he’s not the best starter in the rotation — something everyone associated with the Nats thought he’d be entering the season.

Jerry Blevins, RP: 3.2 IP/7.36 ERA/2.45 WHIP

Even those who are apart of the best bullpen in the majors can be susceptible to a slump here and there. Blevins was that guy this past week, as he was roughed up a few times early in the Atlanta series (though he later pitched better against the Brewers). He allowed the two decisive runs in a disappointing 6-4 loss to the Braves Friday night, a game in which the Nats came back to tie it up in the 9th inning only to falter four innings later. Blevins has allowed runs in three of his last four outings, and has walked five hitters over the last 3.2 innings pitched. That’s obviously not a good trend for any reliever, but those type of performances tend to stand out even more when the rest of the bullpen is pitching lights out.

  1. adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Not a single word on Doug Fister — who, after two losses to the Braves — threw 8 shutout innings against them?

    • veejh - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      What about Rendon? I think he’s been pretty clutch lately.

      • wearenationals - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Rendon’s 7 of his HRs have tied or taken the lead. That is some clutch hitting!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        wearenationals, great stat. He has to get consideration for the mid-summer classic.

  2. adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    From last thread:

    coop202 – Jun 26, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Any chance Harper gets pulled back early if the next day or two goes off without a hitch?

    I think Harper himself said he thought he’d need at least 7 games . . .

    But, we can make your question more generalizable: when is the realistic earliest time for him to rejoin?

    • alexva6 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Generalizable, is he related to Colonel Angus?

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        I want credit for not swinging at that meatball of a pitch you just sent my way! ;-)

      • alexva6 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        please consider it so granted in the name of general good taste and manners.

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      Interestingly, looking at next week, according to ESPN, Colorado will pitch three rookie lefthanders against the Nats. Seems kind of silly to rush Harper back to hit against lefthanders. Of course, he’s got to come back at some point, so why wait?

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        Three rookie lefthanders? Holy Moley!

        As a team, the Nats are batting .232 against RHP and ,280 against LHP.

      • Brookstoor - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Will be some good opportunities for Espinosa to hit from the right side.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        Yes, although I got excited when I saw that we would miss Wainwright and Wacha in old St. Looey, and look how that turned out!

        Anyway, ESPN says the Rockies will start “Flande”, “Friedrich”, and “Matzek”. Not exactly household names.

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        “Flande”, “Friedrich”, and “Matzek”.

        Are they major league pitchers or a law firm?

  3. micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    USA played a great game, next game on Tuesday!

  4. micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Sweet 16 for USA!!

  5. Sonny G 10 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    The guy I’m looking to come back is Ryan Zimmerman. It was a good sign that he hit his first home run since coming back from that thumb injury. At least we know he is now capable of hitting the ball out of the park. I think he is showing signs of coming out of his slump, but he still has a ways to go.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      I was thrilled for Ryan to get that dinger. He has done a pretty good job in left, making a few spectacular catches, getting to most balls that he is supposed to, and catching everything that he gets to.He has run a couple of routes incorrectly, but jeez, he’s only played the position for a few weeks. His throwing is what it is, I.e. not very good. I do like his bat in the lineup, even with his low production since his return from the DL. Personally, I’m glad that I don’t have to make the decision as to where everybody will play when Bryce returns.

  6. micksback1 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    last post today on World Cup, how fitting for USA, they will play Belgium on Tuesday, 1969 movie title quite fitting

    “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium”

    • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      +1 !

  7. wearenationals - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    From what I see, Strasburg is no longer the ace of the team’s rotation. IMO, Zimmermann as now the #1, Fister is #2, Roark is #3, Strasburg #4, and Gio #5 (only because he’s returning from the DL).

    • bowdenball - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      I don’t want to get into a whole argument about this, but just a thought: there’s really no reason to re-rank athletes every week or two based on recency. Performance goes up and down dramatically over the course of a season, but things always have a tendency to regress to previous performance over time. Five weeks ago Charlie Blackmon was better than Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw had a 4.43 ERA and people thought the Royals’ lineup was the worst in the history of baseball. Things have a way of reverting to expectations and projections. I suspect the same will be true of our rotation, both good and bad, i.e. nobody’s gonna rank Strasburg behind Roark in a month or two.

      • adcwonk - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        +1

        +1 for another reason: all five pitchers are going to pitch in a rotation, nobody’s going to get dropped, and so it is meaningless to rank them. It’s not needed until, say, the playoffs if you want to go to a four-man rotation.

  8. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Come on Both, do us a favor today.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      I clearly meant Bo.

      • sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        Heck with Bo, come on Cosart!! (actually I really like Bo!)

  9. sjm308 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    It will be interesting to see if either JZimmnn or Fister get selected to the All-Star game.

    I am hoping that neither does. Not to take away from the honor or prestige but I just want all our guys rested for the charge to the finish and that NL East Championship.

    Everyone says that when we get our entire team back we will slowly pull away from the Braves & Marlins but I will not breath easy until I see us win 5 or 6 in a row, get maybe 10 games over .500 and then continue to win series.

    You have to like most of the pitching lineups in the Cubs & Rockies series but we all know how that can turn out by just looking at yesterdays results.

    Happy to have Ramos back and I still think Harper can take his sweet time in getting to 100%.

    Go Nats!!

    • jd - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      My vote for the Nats all star: Anthony Rendon. JZim, Fister and Stras all have a small chance. Soriano, Clippard and Storen are also all good choices by they seldom pick bullpen pitchers.

  10. Admin - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Great in-depth write-up of Roack on Fangraphs today:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/tanner-roark-and-the-importance-of-strike-one/

    Must-read for this group.

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