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Nationals Stock Watch: Rendon, Werth surging

Jul 10, 2014, 1:24 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

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

Record: 4-2
Team slash: .265/.317/.451
Team ERA:  3.38
Runs per game: 4.83

STOCK UP

Jayson Werth, OF: .389 AVG/ 2 HR/ 6 RBI

If Werth keeps hitting like this, he’ll probably never want July to end. After an albatross of a June in which he hit .212 with a paltry .590 OPS, Werth has emphatically slugged his way out of his recent slump. He already has more home runs in July (three) than he did in all of June and has nearly surpassed last month’s RBI total (he had 13, and 11 already this month). So what gives? Is it really as simple as finding his mojo now that the lineup is fully healthy? Well, not exactly. For one, he’s back to showing the type of patience at the plate that Nationals fans have come to expect from him. When he was scuffling last month, he had a seven-game stretch where he struck out 14 times in 27 at-bats. But in July, he’s done a much better job of working the count to his favor and driving the ball when he gets good pitches to hit. It also doesn’t hurt that the guys in front of him are getting on base more often, too.

Anthony Rendon, INF: .333 AVG/ .364 OBP/ .714 SLG

As one of the candidates for the All-Star Game’s “Final Vote” campaign in the National League, Rendon is definitely making a solid case as to why he should be heading to Minnesota. He’s hit safely in 11 of the last 12 games (Rendon leads the team in hits for the season) and is continuing to flash the leather on defense, whether at third base or at second. Big picture, it’s impressive how the 24-year old infielder has quickly blossomed this season into one of the lineup’s most consistent power threats. While most Nats fans may have hoped that same development would have taken place with Bryce Harper by now (and he still has plenty of time for that), Rendon’s progress as an everyday major leaguer is a good consolation. He’s likely done enough to earn a trip to the Midsummer Classic; the only question now is whether or not he’ll be voted in.

Rafael Soriano, RP: 3 GP/ 2 SV/ 0.00 ERA

Speaking of the All-Star Game, how does a member of one of baseball’s best bullpens not get a nod? There were plenty of candidates to choose from among the Nats’ relief corps, and Soriano may be the best of the bunch. Sure, he may not always pitch the cleanest of innings, but he’s almost always found a way to get the job done. He saved two more games this past week, dropping his season ERA down to an astounding 1.00 — lowest among Nats relievers. In 36 appearances this season, he’s converted 21 of 23 save opportunities and has allowed just four runs total. That’s about as good as it gets, so it’s somewhat surprising that Mike Matheny didn’t add Soriano (or any other Washington reliever, for that matter) to the NL club.

STOCK DOWN

Bryce Harper, OF: .059 AVG/ .200 OBP/ .059 SLG

Yes, it might be too early to say that Harper is slumping. He just returned to the lineup after missing months after thumb surgery, so you knew it would take him some time to regain his footing in this lineup. That being said, he has just four hits in 28 at-bats since he’s come back, and hasn’t yet proven to Matt Williams that he should be hitting higher in the batting order than sixth. Put his on-field struggles with some of the criticism he took around the league for his recent comments regarding the lineup, and it all adds up to a not-so-great week for the 21-year-old.

Craig Stammen, RP: 2 GP/ 27.00 ERA/ 3.60 WHIP

In any extra inning game, a relief pitcher is bound to wilt at some point. That’s baseball. Stammen just so happened to be that guy Monday night against the Orioles, allowing five runs in the 11th inning (including two dingers) that broke the game open and helped give Baltimore an 8-2 victory.  Not that it’s time to panic over his performance, but Stammen’s now been charged with a loss in two of his last four appearances. But the beauty of having an otherwise lights out bullpen is that Matt Williams can put certain relievers in less pressure-packed situations here and there to help them out of whatever funk they may be in. That’s not to say Stammen deserves more days off, but his workload may be worth monitoring. After all, he’s pitched the most innings of anyone in the bullpen.
  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 10, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Where has Stammen’s slider gone? McCatty has work to do and my suggestion is the next time he appears in a close game and the slider isn’t sliding, pull him sooner rather than later.

  2. Doc - Jul 10, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    I expected ARen to display some hitting magic this year. I predicted in ST that he would display some Joey Votto like numbers at the plate. Quick hands, with a leftie’s smooth swing! Like all good hitters, Rendon hits on top of the ball, not underneath it.

    If Tony stays healthy, I predict a Stan Musial-like career!

    Didn’t know how great he was in the field—what a bonus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 10, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      Someone said to me he hits the ball like a good NFL kicker.

      I made some crazy predictions about ARen before he ever played a pro game. He’s making my predictions look good.

      He’s also distanced himself from that ST distraction of the 2nd base competition to now being a serious contender for the All Star game. No surprise to me.

      • veejh - Jul 10, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        Yeah, he and Espi were competing for the starting job. What a joke.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        The joke was on those who kept calling it a real competition. OK, sure it was.

      • veejh - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        To be fair, I thought Espi had turned the corner…..for a minute……the joke was clearly on me.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        He did it to me too but I was skeptical.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Stan the man? Really? It is one or the other extreme with NIs lately. Either we are ready to trade harper or this. He doesn’t even have 1000 PAs. Stan won MVP as a 22 year old. Let’s not get too excited.

      • Doc - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        You’re looking at the wrong stats in a different era–and I don’t mean ERA.

        This is not your father’s tWWII baseball , it’s our baseball!

        Best to pay attention to batting fundamentals, before you go off on a tangent into the Never- Never Land of the verbal stratosphere!

        I don’t need 1000 AB’s even if you do, Sport!

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        You can keep making those comparisons to one of the greatest hitters of all time based on barely a full season. I would be equally happy if Rendon reaches that status but not ready to have such expectations of him.

  3. veejh - Jul 10, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Stock up: Detwiler. Not a bad turnaround.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 10, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      From that fantastic extra innings appearance going forward he shows how things change quickly in baseball and for him all positive.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Det has had the talent. He can be a major contributor if he continues the latest focus.

  4. Hiram Hover - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    A little surprised ALR doesn’t show up under stock down:

    .111/.190./111 over the last 7 days.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      He has the ball well just at people.

  5. Eugene in Oregon - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Maybe Craig Stammen could swap his slider for a screwball?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/magazine/the-mystery-of-the-vanishing-screwball.html?_r=0

  6. Section 222 - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Factually incorrect Soriano meme watch.

    Sure, he may not always pitch the cleanest of innings,

    Will it never stop?

    Since the beginning of June, Soriano has appeared in 15 games. In eight of them he’s pitched to the minimum number of batters. In 5 others, he’s pitched to only four hitters. That’s 13 of 15 games. By comparison, during the same stretch, uber closer and perennial all-star Craig Kimbrel has faced 3 or 4 batters in only 11 out of 15 games.

    I guess if what you mean by always is literally “always,” the statement is correct. But give it a rest. No one “always” pitches a clean inning. There is no need to hedge if you want to praise Soriano’s performance this year. So stop it!

    • ArVAFan - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      +1

    • NatsLady - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      Soriano is the only one of our pitchers on ESPN’s Cy Young watch list. Not that he has much chance, but there you are.

      http://espn.go.com/mlb/features/cyyoung

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Very good point. Another way to look at it is WHIP. Among the 14 MLB relievers with 20 or more saves, Rafael Soriano has the 2nd best WHIP at 0.83. Only Huston Street at 0.78 is fractionally better.

      • NatsLady - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Huston Street is another All-Star snub.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        I guess according to Daniel, the only person closer who “pitches clean innings” is Huston Street. Grumble.

    • bowdenball - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      +1

      Every fan base complains about their closer “making it interesting.” That’s because clean innings aren’t as common as people seem to think and every baserunner equals a nervous fan base with a slim lead in the 9th. It’s so silly. Soriano has been magnificent.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        I, for one, love exciting baseball. Soriano often makes it very exciting. He also usually comes out on top. Deuces and I have both been trying to get more folks to show some love for Raffy for a long time. We’ve been lucky to have him, and no, he’s not lucky, he’s actually very good!

  7. NatsLady - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    Jayson Werth leading the NL in RBI with 11 for July. (Got that from the Fillies game).

    • David Proctor - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      Today’s game? What inning?

      • NatsLady - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        They are currently in the 5th being no hit by Matt Garza.

      • NatsLady - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        Garza walked Marlin Byrd to break up the perfecto, if you can call it a perfecto in the 5th inning.

  8. therealjohnc - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Really Daniel? When talking about Soriano, you include this line:

    “Sure, he may not always pitch the cleanest of innings, but he’s almost always found a way to get the job done.”

    Soriano gives up the fewest baserunners of anyone on the Nationals pitching staff (0.833 WHIP). You might have noticed that the Nationals have a very good pitching staff. I also note that Soriano’s WHIP is lower than that of Craig Kimbrel (0.934), who is regarded as the best closer in the National League. At this point of the season the trope that Soriano “makes things exciting” or “lives on the edge” is really not defensible; to include it when talking about his 2014 performance is simply lazy. Sure, Soriano gives up baserunners from time to time. Hello, he’s facing major league hitters, and he never gets to face the pitchers like the starters do – the worst hitters are PH for when the closer is in. Soriano doesn’t ALWAYS pitch 1-2-3 innings, but he does it a lot.

    For Soriano, all you need to say is: “since August of last year he’s been terrific.” Done. Feeding inaccurate internet memes isn’t good journalism.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      Aaaaaand I owe Section 222 a drink :-)

      • Section 222 - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        As a founder of NIDO, I hereby decree that no drink is required for expressing an important point in a different and every effective way. Especially when you agree with me!! :-)

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      And, just for the record, Mariano Rivera’s career WHIP was an even 1.00 and he only had one season is which is WHIP was better than 0.83. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Rafael Soriano is equal to or better than Mr. Rivera, just offering a couple of data points for comparison’s sake.

  9. David Proctor - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    We’re up to 6th in the league in errors. Errors can be a silly stat, but we’re also up to 4th in the league in Defensive Runs Saved.

  10. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 10, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    “Non-clean innings” are defined by Don Stanhouse, Randy Myers. Soriano does not qualify.

    • RPrecupjr - Jul 10, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      And Mitch “walk the bases loaded then strike out the side” Williams. If there was ever one player who made the stock of Maker’s Mark and Maalox soar when he entered a game, it was him.

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