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Nationals Stock Watch: Span’s streak continues

Aug 6, 2014, 1:36 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

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

Record: 2-4
Team slash: .240/.307/.321
Team ERA:  3.93
Runs per game: 4

STOCK UP

Denard Span, CF: .423 AVG/ .467 OBP/ 5 SB

Is there anything left to say about what Span’s been doing the last month? He’s giving the Nationals everything they could possibly want out of their leadoff man: Quality at-bats, a high on-base percentage and speed on the base paths, not to mention stellar defense in center field. He now leads the team in batting average, hits, doubles and stolen bases. That’s superb, especially considering Span’s relatively sluggish start to the season. He’s hitting his stride at the perfect time; with Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup for a while, they needed someone like Span to help spark the offense. Will the rest of the lineup follow suit?

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-0/ 10K/ 0.00 ERA

We’ve often talked in this space about how Nats fans have gotten their fair share of the good and not-so-good versions of Strasburg this season. But on Sunday vs. Cole Hamels and the Phillies, he put on a clinic while hurling seven shutout innings, and in doing so perhaps gave hope that he might be able to find the formula for consistency during the stretch run. Matt Williams pointed out afterward that Strasburg displayed the best fastball command he’s had all season. That’s key for a guy who doesn’t touch triple digits on the radar gun as much as he used to (though throwing a heater in mid-90s ain’t half bad either). When he’s spotting his fastball like he did Sunday, it’s tough sledding for opposing lineups, who in the back of their minds also have to worry about his secondary pitches. So really, the issue isn’t so much about Strasburg’s pitch arsenal as it is about his command and his overall ability string together solid performances — both at home and on the road. Sunday’s performance was a really positive sign, but it’ll be even more important to replicate that kind of performance down the stretch.

STOCK DOWN

Bryce Harper, LF: .125 AVG/ .192 OBP/ .125 SLG
It’s getting late early for Harper, who just hasn’t been able to have the kind of impact that he or the Nationals hoped he would this year. He’s had quality stretches at times, but unfortunately they haven’t lasted very long and have been sandwiched between prolonged slumps. Is he still not at full strength after the thumb surgery? Is he still getting used to his new batting stance? Have opposing pitchers picked up on his tendencies? It’s hard to tell what the exact issue is sometimes, and it could be a combination of all of those factors and then some. But the bottom line is that he hasn’t been himself for quite some time, and the Nats need the old Bryce to return as they make a playoff push.

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 0-2/ 9.2 IP/ 8.38 ERA

July and early August haven’t been kind to Gio, who’s lost four out of his last five decisions to drop his overall record to 6-8 on the season. He’s had his share of tough-luck losses, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Reds, but he’s also had starts where he couldn’t get out of the fourth inning like he did last Thursday against the Phillies en route to a 10-4 loss. After looking like he was rebounding nicely shortly after his stint on the disabled list, Gonzalez is back to showing some of the same inconsistency that plagued the early part of his season.
Craig Stammen, RP: 2 GP/ 3.0 IP/ 15.00 ERA/ 4.00 WHIP

Boy, the bullpen has really fallen on hard times lately. Once considered the strength of the team, Nats relievers are starting to tire as their number of appearances continues mount.  Stammen might be the poster child for that, as his 55.1 innings pitched are the most of anyone in the bullpen (though there are other relievers who have a greater number of appearances). Over the last week, Stammen wasn’t charged with a loss, but he allowed the key tack-on runs late that put games against the Phillies and the Orioles out of reach. Stammen and the rest of the Nats relievers needed some extra help, and they may have gotten it with the recent addition of lefty Matt Thorton, who could help lighten the load some of the tired arms in the ‘pen.
  1. chaz11963 - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    I just had an interesting look at the Fangraphs’ pitching stats for relievers. Nats relievers have a total of 326 IP in 304 games. That’s 22nd in MLB in IP and 28th in Games- one of the lowest usages in MLB. However, Stammen is by far the most used with 55 IP, ranking him the 12th most used reliever in MLB. Clip is 2nd on the Nats with 47 IP. You will never guess who is next…. Det… 45 IP… followed closely by Soriano with 43 IP and Blevins with 40.

    • David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Well long men get more innings. That’s not surprising. Clippard has the most appearances on the team with 50

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      Can you do that again using appearances?

      • chaz11963 - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        Good idea, I would really have to do a deep dive to determine whether these appearances were high or low leverage situations, but looks very different from a usage perspective:

        #1 Clip- MLB 36th; 50 games
        #2 Blevins- MLB 53rd; 48 games
        #3 Soriano- MLB 86th; 44 games
        #4 Storen- MLB 105; 42 games
        #5 Barrett- MLB 122; 40 games
        #6 Stammen- MLB 154; 33 games
        #7 Det- MLB 159; 32 games

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:55 PM

        Thanks — I’m a bit surprised by that. I’d have thought that Cip/Storen/Soriano would be higher than they are.

        This is a good thing — increases the probability that they’ll still be solid in October

  2. David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    We’re on pace to win 88 games. Since June 1, we’re playing .622 ball, even with how awful we’ve been lately. If we play .622 the rest of the way, we’d finish with 92 wins. 4 of the last 10 WS Champs have had 92 wins or less.

    • Nats Amore - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      The chances of the Nats making the postseason one way or another are extremely high, but the numbers you cite about 4/10 teams having won it all with 92 or less wins may point to something else. That is, success in the postseason is often more about who’s hot at the moment. That’s why we’ve seen Wild Card teams go all the way – they are on a tear. As I said, the way the NL East looks, I can’t see them not getting in, but the key is to be hot in October.

      • RPrecupjr - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        Being hot in October will be more attainable if RZ does come back in mid-September. That’ll give him his usual two weeks to find his timing before the playoffs start

      • scmargenau - Aug 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        great point– that’s what makes baseball so interesting!

    • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      And perhaps more importantly, our full season pace of 88 wins would probably be more than enough to win the NL East. The Braves, who are about to lose Andrelton Simmons for at least a few days, would have to go 30-19 in their final 49 games to reach 88. A tall order that seems almost impossible when you look at their schedule over the next three weeks.

      • chaz11963 - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        Yup, despite the recent poor performance Nats are projected to easily win the NL East, have the 2nd best record in the NL, and best chances of making it to the WS out of the NL:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/coolstandings.aspx

  3. scnatsfan - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Did I miss… who got moved for Thornton off the 25?

    • RPrecupjr - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      Taylor Jordan moved from 15 to 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man

      • scnatsfan - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

        Did he get assigned to Syracuse? If he’s in Washington someone has to go.

    • chaz11963 - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      Treinen went back to Syracuse.

      • scnatsfan - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        thanks

  4. David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    The Cubs DFA’d Nate Schierholtz. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Rizzo pick him up.

    • chaz11963 - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Interesting… Cubs will eat the rets of his $5m salary and he becomes a FA next year. He would only play against righties… I don’t know where we would put him on the 25 man roster.

  5. David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Treinan down for Thornton

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      :-0

      My shocked face.

      • NatsLady - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        Mine too. MW got two innings out of him last night, and good-bye.

      • chaz11963 - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        Yup, don’t get this. We basically have 2 loogys now in the BP

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