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Stock Watch: More than just Harper’s bat getting hot

May 21, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

May 20, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) hits a home run in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 5-1

Team slash: .286/.363/.468

Team ERA: 3.75

Runs per game: 6.3



Bryce Harper, RF:  .500 AVG/ 3 HR/ 1.751 OPS

As Mark Zuckerman stated out recently, at what point is this no longer a hot streak and just what Harper is as a hitter? With the way he’s going, it looks like he’s about to set up permanent residence in this spot for years to come. It seems like we’ve thrown out about as many superlatives as we could to describe his last few weeks, and yet he continues to put up these gaudy numbers. At about a quarter through the season, Harper is on pace to finish with 59 home runs and notch 150 RBI. Obviously, those totals aren’t things Nationals fans should reasonably expect come season’s end. But given how locked in he is right now, who knows what his numbers will look like in a few months?

Ian Desmond, SS:  .346 AVG/ 2 HR/ 5 RBI

Yes, there are other hot hitters in the Nats’ lineup besides Bryce Harper. Desmond is currently riding a six-game hit streak, and is clearly enjoying batting second in the order. On the season, he has a slash line of .316/.373/.513 with three homers hitting in the two-hole. Whether it’s his comfort level with being near the top of the lineup, the protection behind him or something else entirely, for whatever reason he’s thriving in that spot much more so than when manager Matt Williams had him hitting sixth or seventh.

Denard Span, CF: .391 AVG/ 3 RBI/ .435 SLG 

He’s been hitting well for a while now, so forgive Span’s absence on this list in recent weeks. Regardless, the Nats’ leadoff man has clearly shaken off the rust a month after coming off the disabled list and is just about back to his 2014 form. He’s hit safely in nine straight games, and has posted multi-hit efforts in seven of them. If there was one thing to be nitpicky about, it’s that he’s only swiped three bases thus far this year. But with the way the guys behind him are mashing, it’s not like the Nats offense needs to play small ball to win games these days.

Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 2-0/ 1.38 ERA/ 13.0 IP

Outside of a tough first inning Wednesday night, Zimmermann has now turned in two straight quality starts, raising his record to 4-2 and lowering his ERA to 3.52. It may not seem like he’s throwing as well as he used to, but the Nats have now won five straight games in which he’s pitched. Going through his nine starts this year, he’s only had one truly bad outing, when he surrendered eight runs in 2 1/3 innings against he Red Sox at Fenway Park in early April. Other than that, he’s pitched at least six innings in every start this year and hasn’t surrendered more than three earned runs.



Doug Fister, SP: 0-1/ 2.0 IP/ 31.50 ERA

Fister just hasn’t been himself thus far this season. His sinker hasn’t worked as consistently as it did in 2014, and he isn’t getting the amount of ground ball outs like he used to. As a result, he’s leaving fastballs (most of which top out under 90 mph) elevated in the zone and hitters have been feasting on those mistakes. However, it turns out his struggles may have been health related, as he was placed on the 15-day disabled list late last week because of forearm tightness. Whenever he comes back, the Nats will need him to rediscover the formula that made him the club’s most consistent starter last year.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 3:14 PM

    I can’t believe that the Marlins just gave up another lead and were just swept by the DBacks in a 4 game series. That’s now a 7 game losing streak for the Marlins.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 21, 2015 at 3:20 PM

      Dear Jeffrey Loria,

      How’s that move of demoting your GM to be field manager working? And when does the fire sale start — before or after the All Star Break?


      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 3:34 PM

        Jennings post-game pressers have been a treat! LMAO, They botched a rundown last night and his answer to the media is they have things to work on.

      • natsfan1a - May 21, 2015 at 3:34 PM

        Also, can we have Stanton? ‘kay, thanks! (Yeah, I know, but a gal can dream.)

      • nats128 - May 21, 2015 at 3:37 PM

        Dee Gordon with another 0-fer. His batting average down to a lousy .388 😉 Ted Williams shaking in his cryogenic chamber.

      • virginiascopist - May 21, 2015 at 3:43 PM

        That’s something I’ve been wondering about. Is there are particular reason for a team like the Marlins not to start selling off now as opposed to waiting until the All-Star break?

      • nats128 - May 21, 2015 at 3:55 PM

        Loria probaly wont wait much longer to start another fire sale Virginiascopist.

        His MO is trade high salary players for young controlable players but there most expensive players suck. Most expensive player is Prado then Haren and Latos and Morse. The next tier is Cishek and he is probaly tradeable.

      • masterfishkeeper - May 21, 2015 at 4:48 PM

        Trade Haren back to the Dodgers!

  2. natsfan1a - May 21, 2015 at 3:19 PM

    The Cards are not holding up their end against the Mets (and DeGrom).

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 3:24 PM

    Those who questioned Jacob DeGrom after his May 11th start (do you remember), he’s throwing a 1 hit shutout against the Cardinals. That’s no small accomplishment. That will go nicely with his other 2 shutouts this year and 2 games of 1 run ball.

    His ERA: 2.75

    • nats128 - May 21, 2015 at 3:35 PM


    • natsfan1a - May 21, 2015 at 3:38 PM

      He came out after the 8th, but Familia is trying to preserve it.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 21, 2015 at 3:39 PM

      And great hair. Don’t forget that’s got really, really good hair.

      • natsfan1a - May 21, 2015 at 3:41 PM

        He really should do shampoo commercials.

    • bowdenball - May 21, 2015 at 3:41 PM

      I don’t think the Mets are going anywhere. They have an outstanding rotation, one that should limit the number of long losing streaks they endure. When Wright and d’Arnaud return the offense should be at least passable.

      Certainly we’re the overwhelming favorites to win the division, and I think 90 wins or so will do it, but I don’t think we’ll be cruising through September counting down to the inevitable clincher like we were last season.

      • nats128 - May 21, 2015 at 3:50 PM

        All depends how long Harvey can last this season.

        The moral to the story is dont judge players by 1 or 2 bad games. Degrom could be a Ace for most teams.

      • jd - May 21, 2015 at 4:01 PM


        I agree with you that the Mets are a good overall team and will contend for the wild card. I do however believe that the Nats are significantly better than the Mets and will win the division comfortably ( may be not by 17 games but I don’t think it’l be close).

  4. jd - May 21, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    I also think that the Mets have a chance to convert some of their pitching surplus into something for their lineup. They are especially weak at SS and the outfield and they can also do better at 2nd base.

    • virginiascopist - May 21, 2015 at 4:20 PM

      True, but unless they’re willing to tap into their considerable supply of pitching prospects, which I don’t think they’re willing to do, they’re not going to get back significant upgrades at 2B, SS or outfield. Preferably, they’d like to deal Gee, Colon or Niese, and I don’t think they’re going to get them as much as they think.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 4:21 PM

      If they believe in “Win Now” I would be concerned with them as they have the horses to trade for some top players to fill their needs.

      Projecting today’s rosters, yes, I would agree with you but I’d be thinking they could upgrade big time.

      • jd - May 21, 2015 at 4:42 PM

        That’s kind of what I’m saying and I also agree with virginiascopist that the Mets would prefer to trade away their older less attractive pitchers rather than someone like Syndergard or DeGrom but in order to make a significant upgrade they will need to swap one or more of their young studs.

        On a radio talk show in NY someone suggested Gee, Montero and Murphy for Jose Reyes (there’s still a lot of love for Reyes in NY). I think that’s an overpay given that Reyes is so injury prone.

      • masterfishkeeper - May 21, 2015 at 5:23 PM

        That does seem like a big overpay. I’d be happy to see the Mets do that, although I don’t like watching Reyes.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 21, 2015 at 4:30 PM

      Any team that would make its completely inexperienced GM the manager, there’s no telling what trades they’d agree to, just to dump salary. Heck, they can save about $1.5 MM on Hechevarria alone, and he’s arb-eligible this off-season.

    • letswin3 - May 21, 2015 at 5:32 PM

      If you’re talking about next season, I expect them to be players for Ian Desmond as a FA. Although it would be hard to face him 18 games a season for 4 or 5 years.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    Colorado’s 3rd base coach isn’t bright. Send Tulo against Francouer’s arm. Frenchy throws a rope home and Tulo doesn’t even bother to slide.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    “nats128 – May 21, 2015 at 3:55 PM
    Loria probaly wont wait much longer to start another fire sale Virginiascopist.

    His MO is trade high salary players for young controlable players but there most expensive players suck. Most expensive player is Prado then Haren and Latos and Morse. The next tier is Cishek and he is probaly tradeable.”.

    Loria is stuck this time. He will most likely move Cishek shortly and possibly Ichiro and some other bullpen arms. Cishek is at $6.65 million but is having a bad season.

    • rayvil01 - May 21, 2015 at 5:53 PM

      Dodgers need a starter and have young infielders in abundance. Saw a piece the other day that they’re pretty much openly talking about making such a move. Phelps? Alvarez?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 6:17 PM

        Is Alvarez still injured?

      • manassasnatsfan - May 21, 2015 at 11:31 PM

        Alverez returned last Sunday and was opposed by the 8 2/3 inning no hitter by Shekby Miller. Had Miller pitched the no hitters, it would mad the last 2 no hitters be pitched while he was the opposing pitcher.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 5:34 PM

    Flipping through games. You have to see how empty Oriole Park is in a 4-4 game. Can’t be more than 2,000 people there.

    • ArVAFan - May 21, 2015 at 5:46 PM

      The rain might have had something to do with that.

      Or not.

    • rayvil01 - May 21, 2015 at 5:49 PM

      “There are no true baseball fans in Baltimore. That’s a myth.”

      A little cold, a little rain…you find out who’s hardcore and who isn’t.

      • nats128 - May 21, 2015 at 5:54 PM

        Turn on the game. You would swear there is 40,000 fans there by the backround noise. Place is empty. Can you say piped in crowd noise.

      • sec105rowwseat28 - May 21, 2015 at 7:17 PM

        MASN does the same thing at Nats games when the park empties out after a rain delay.

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 21, 2015 at 7:15 PM

      Give it a rest. 12:30 game on a Wednesday before school is out for the summer. Raining all morning. Two hour rain delay mid-game. Any MLB park would have been just as empty in such a situation. Yes, even Nationals Park.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 7:23 PM

        They also reported 33,085 for paid attendence. How about that!

        BTW, I check and schools in Baltimore, Howard, and Baltimore City all go through mid-June.

        The issue is their fans including Rabbit claim they’re a better fanbase.

  8. langleyclub - May 21, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    Giants lead the Dodgers 2-0 in the 7th. Madison B has homered off Kershaw. If the Giants win, MB will 3-0 against Kershaw this year, and the Dodgers with be 2-7 against the Giants and 22-9 against everyone else.

  9. rlndtln - May 21, 2015 at 7:47 PM

    The Mets are a real problem.They may come up short this year but when they get 2 middle infielders,they will be tough to beat next year.

  10. dcwx61 - May 21, 2015 at 8:06 PM

    if only hudson could have resumed play without harper in the box
    bring on the robots





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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