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Nationals Stock Watch: Heroes aplenty

Aug 20, 2014, 2:07 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

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

Record: 7-0
Team slash: .271/.343/.421
Team ERA: 2.01
Runs per game:  5

STOCK UP

Adam LaRoche, 1B:  3 HR/ 7 RBI/.419 OBP

When the Nationals are rolling like this, you could probably make a case for any number of guys being in this spot. During their current eight-game win streak, there’s seemingly been a different hero every night. That being said, LaRoche is responsible for the game-tying or game-winning runs in three of the last seven Nats victories. Not too shabby. He’s continuing to build on what’s been an huge August for him, as he already has six home runs this month — the most he’s had in any month this season.

Ian Desmond, SS: .360 AVG/ .448 OBP/ 5 RBI

Desmond’s had his faults at the plate this season (particularly with strikeouts), but he’s still having a solid 2014 campaign. He, like the rest of the team, has come on of late. He’s reached base in his last nine games, hitting two home runs with 8 RBI in that span. After a three-hit night Tuesday, he’s raised his average back above .250 for the first time since Aug. 2nd, and still leads the team in home runs (20) as well as RBI (77). Say what you want about his plate discipline at times — he leads the team by a wide margin in strikeouts with 143 — but there’s no doubt Desmond is one of the best power-hitting shortstops in the game today.

Wilson Ramos, C: .381/.619 SLG/ 4 RBI
Ramos, like LaRoche, is finding his groove this month. He’s had five multi-hit efforts in five of his last ten games (with RBIs in six of them), and is quietly putting together a nice little stretch now that he’s healthy and in the lineup everyday. In fact, entering Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks, the guy with the second-best average in the lineup is Ramos at .298.

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 2-0/ 15.0 IP/ 0.60 ERA

Now this is the Strasburg the Nats and their fans want to see the rest of the way. Sure, you can nitpick and say that the two teams he performed well against don’t have the greatest of lineups (the Mets and Diamondbacks are ranked 27th and 20th in runs scored, respectively), but we’ve seen him struggle against lesser teams before, so it was encouraging to see Strasburg dominate in back-to-back outings. He was equal parts dominant and pitch efficient, giving the bullpen a much-needed reprieve by going seven-plus innings each outing.

STOCK DOWN

Rafael Soriano, RP: 3 GP/ 1 BS/13.50 ERA

Not to quash any of the enthusiasm after an undefeated week, but now it might be time to start worrying about the closer. Whether it’s because of inconsistent use, too much use, or whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that Soriano’s been pretty shaky lately. He only blew one save in the last week (which was later negated thanks to a ninth inning rally), but he’s routinely walked the tightrope even when he closes out victories. He’s allowed baserunners in four out of his last five outings, and has allowed runs to score in three out of his last four. Matt Williams sent out Tyler Clippard in the ninth to close out the game Monday night, but Clippard, ironically, blew the save when he allowed a solo homer. So if you’re the manager, now what? The bullpen is clearly fatigued, but there has to be a way to sort out the back end come playoff time.

  1. karlkolchak - Aug 20, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    It would seem that the way to “sort out” the back end of the bullpen is to start giving more SVOs to Storen, who’s pitched eight fewer innings than Soriano and 15 fewer than Clippard. He ought to be relatively fresh and he’s held the closer’s job before.

    • jd - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      Not gonna happen. They are not changing what has worked all year unless they are convinced it’s broken. If, say Soriano is ineffective 4 – 5 more times and it’s obvious he’d lost it they may consider a change but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

  2. thomaswell - Aug 20, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    roster expansion can not come any sooner for us

    • snerdblurter - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      yep. this problem goes away with sept. call-ups and an 8+ game lead…

    • stoatva - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      L/R match ups throughout September. Like it or not.

      • thomaswell - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        i dont know if MW will do L/R match ups as much as resting people especially if we have 8+ game lead.

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        You’re referring to bringing in relievers to match up L/R in the late innings as opposed to platooning our hitters, right?

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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)...

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