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Nationals Stock Watch: Roark leading rotation

Jul 31, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

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

Record: 3-3
Team slash: .231/.326/.265
Team ERA:  3.32
Runs per game: 3

STOCK UP

Tanner Roark, SP: 2-0/ 1.29 ERA/ 0.64 WHIP

Roark’s season thus far has been nothing short of a cinderella story. Despite the 27-year-old righty’s stigma of being a supposed “back of the rotation” guy, all he does is goes out on the mound every fifth day and give the Nationals a chance to win. He did so again this past week, notching a pair of victories that included Wednesday’s win over the Marlins that stopped a two-game slide. His grind-it-out approach on the mound continues to work wonders, even though he doesn’t have what most would consider high-end stuff. But despite that, he gets results; Roark now (remarkably) leads the Nats in wins and has the second-best ERA among the starters. Clearly, Washington got a whole lot more than it bargained for nearly four years ago to the day the team traded Cristian Guzman to the Texas Rangers for a perceived low-impact pitching prospect.

Doug Fister, SP: 1-0/ 0.00 ERA/ 0.54 WHIP

The other unlikely hero of the rotation has been Fister, whose efforts combined with Roark’s contributed to all three Nats victories over the last week. The 30-year-old sinker baller has been the model of consistency: He pounds the strike zone, induces ground balls and before you know it, it’s already the eighth inning and the opposing lineup has been mostly held in check. After hurling seven scoreless innings en route to Sunday’s win in Cincy, he won his fourth straight decision to raise his record to 10-2 with a 2.69 ERA.

Denard Span, CF: .381 AVG/ .552 OBP/3 SB/8 BB

Doesn’t it seems like such a distant memory when Matt Williams was asked about potentially removing Span from the top of the lineup? It sure feels that way. The Nats’ leadoff man has continued his torrid July, a month in which he’s reached base in every single game. Span’s been so productive lately that he still contributed in the only game this week in which he didn’t get a hit, instead drawing four walks and scoring a run in Sunday’s 4-2 win in Cincinnati. With just a few weeks of impressive play, he’s raised his average on the season to .288 and his on-base percentage to .348  — the highest they’ve been since April 4th.

STOCK DOWN 

Rafael Soriano, RP: 3 GP/ 0-1/ 15.43 ERA

Perhaps it’s a little unfair to put Soriano here after just one tough performance against the Marlins. After all, he’s been one of the best closers in the National League all season. Even the best relievers in the game are prone to having an off night from time to time. That being said, Monday’s ninth-inning collapse was really difficult to stomach for Nats fans. Soriano just didn’t have it, allowing four runs in only a third of an inning to hand Washington its most demoralizing loss of the season. Even before Monday night, the perception with Soriano was that he tends to make the ninth inning interesting. But as Mark Zuckerman points out, he’s fourth among NL closers in percentage of 1-2-3 innings pitched. That stat probably won’t erase the sting of Monday, but the name of the game for closers is racking up saves, and Soriano has done it far more often than not.

Jerry Blevins, RP: 2 GP/ 27.00 ERA 

Blevins was another reliever who had a tough series in Miami. Not only did he allow the walk-off hit Monday night, he gave up two huge insurance runs Tuesday that put the Nats out of striking distance. His season ERA is now at 5.11, which is by far the highest of anyone in the bullpen. It’ll be interesting to see how Matt Williams manages Blevins’ struggles the last two months of the season, and if he’ll start to put him in more low stress situations to try to get the lefty on track.

  1. scnatsfan - Jul 31, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Daniel how dare you start another thread while the deadline looms :)

  2. water47 - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Trade notes fine but a Stock watch and nothing on O’s Nats dispute? How about an article about Space Coast Stadium while you are at it.. NatsInsider & Mark disappoint for the first time.

    • water47 - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      Maybe, you are holding it back because it is not as timely as other issues but it has been widely reported everywhere else.

  3. bowdenball - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Always a good thing if you have to go to the bullpen to find guys who are trending down because the rotation and the starters have been so solid. Although Desmond’s .143/.280/.190 over the last week probably could have been included.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      IMHO Desi gets a pass for his 2 run hit yesterday to ultimately win the game.

  4. Doc - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    TRoard is the Stopper!!!!

  5. mdmcommish - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Ok, off topic. Is it more advantageous for the Nats to finish with the SECOND best record (presumably behind the Dodgers) and play the winner of the Central? Rather than playing a wild card team (Giants, Braves, Cards, Pirates).

    Put another way, would you rather play the Brewers/Cards/ Pirates and then NOT have home field against the Dodgers if you advance, or take your chances as the top seed and play a Wild Card team who are on a roll from winning the Wild Card AND the one game play-in, but perhaps having blown a top pitcher or two to get there?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      What happens happens but you could get the Wild Card team after they pitched their #1 in the Wild Card game and that’s an advantage.

      • coop202 - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        I will always prefer playing the giants. We have the same relationship with them at the moment that the cards seem to have on us.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Stock watch way down when Espi let Henderson Alvarez off the ropes swinging wildly at pitch #1 with bases loaded after a walk. Then he K’d. That was a no outs bases loaded situation. Almost inexecusable execution at a turning point in the game.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      OMG That was the WORST. I’d have benched him on the spot.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        That game was lost right there. With the bat glued to his shouldrr he walks in a run and Alvarez was gone. I was in a state.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        Right. Alvarez had been all over the place and walked two hitters in the inning already. How does Danny swing at the first pitch in that situation? That’s not bad strike zone recognition; it’s simply stupid.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        I thought the same at the time.

  7. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Uhm, we got Cabrera?

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    I heard Z Walters to the Indians.

  9. philipd763 - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Hopefully, Rizzo can dump Espi somewhere. Sending him to Syracuse isn’t the answer.

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