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Stock Watch: Storen excelling in setup role

Aug 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Drew Storen throws in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Miami. The Nationals defeated the Marlins 1-0. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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

Record: 3-4

Team slash: .213/.262/.356

Team ERA: 3.00

Runs per game:  3.14



Drew Storen, RP: 4 GP/ 1-0/ 0.00 ERA  

For those concerned about how Storen would take to his new eighth inning role, the past week provided a pretty resounding answer. After the club traded for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon — a move that essentially meant a demotion of sorts for the incumbent — Storen responded with a dominant stretch to show the Nats that he can be effective no matter what inning it is. In his four appearances since Papelbon’s arrival, he’s retired all 12 batters he’s faced, including six strikeouts. Of the 35 pitches he’s thrown in those outings, 32 have been strikes, with nine of those being swings-and-misses. Yeah, that’s pretty nasty. It’s obvious that he’s probably not thrilled about his new role, but so far he appears to be making the best of it.

Casey Janssen, RP: 3 GP/ 0.00 ERA  

Don’t look now, but the back end of the Nats’ bullpen is looking more and more dangerous. With a combination of Janssen, Storen and Papelbon, Matt Williams has the ability to shorten each game a la last year’s Kansas City Royals. It may not feel like Janssen has been as overpowering as Storen and Papelbon, but his numbers suggest otherwise: In his last nine outings, he hasn’t allowed a run and has 10 strikeouts, one walk on just two hits. That’ll get the job done.

Bryce Harper, RF: .333 AVG/ 2 HR/ 1.009 OPS  

What’s amazing about Harper’s season is even when it seems like he’s “cooled off” for a particular stretch, he still winds up leading the club in most offensive categories. Take this past week for example, where he lead all Nats in average and OPS. Even when the rest of the lineup is struggling, he always finds a way to avoid an elongated slump, which is a credit to a more consistent, patient approach at the plate.


Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 6.0 IP/ 0-1/ 7.50 ERA  

Nats fans are still smarting from Zimmermann’s most recent outing, one that was highlighted by a third-inning meltdown against the Mets on national television where the righty allowed five runs on three homers in a four-hitter stretch. The sequence was so stunning, so un-Zimmermann-like that it punctuated something most fans had feared: The Mets are a real threat, and this division race is about to heat up. What’s troubling for the Nats these days is that, aside from Max Scherzer, they don’t appear to have a stopper in the rotation. Before the season, Scherzer and Zimmermann were seen as one of the best one-two punches of any starting rotation in the game. Now it seems like both are scuffling a little more than we’re accustomed to seeing. And with the Nats struggling to score consistently, it puts even more pressure on their horses to hold opposing offenses at bay.

Doug Fister, SP: 12.0 IP/ 1-1/ 5.25 ERA 

He’s been listed in this spot more times than Nats fans would like, but it’s pretty clear that Fister just isn’t the same pitcher that he was in 2014. The sinkerballer hasn’t been able to use his patented formula of working quickly and inducing ground balls to mow down opposing lineups. Instead, that formula has eluded him as his sinker (which averages between 87 and 88 mph) is too often left up in the zone for hitters to feast on. He’s allowed 44 earned runs this season — the exact amount he yielded in 25 starts last year.

  1. nats106 - Aug 5, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Is Desmond’s stock so low it can’t drop further? Is he listed on the pink sheets now?

    Maybe one should be started for Matt Williams.

    I hope I feel better about tonight’s win compared to last night. That one really didn’t feel that great.

    Now there’s optimism!

    • stoatva - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:19 PM

      Junk bonds!

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 5, 2015 at 4:18 PM


  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2015 at 12:44 PM

    The JZim stock down is unfortunate when you look at the circumstances of his bad game. Had the leadoff man struck out but the ump didn’t see it that way and the walk led to a sac bunt and then a 2nd out and a 1-2 count on Granderson where he couldn’t hit the JZim fastball and Lobaton called for the curve which Granderson didn’t miss.

    It was an ugly inning. Oh well, need to bounce back in his next start.

    • jd - Aug 5, 2015 at 12:55 PM

      Sorry Ghost, I don’t agree with the rationalization at all. If you are a star and a team leader you put mistakes behind you and you get the job done. Whether it’s poor defense against the Red Sox, poor umpiring against the Mets or whatever there is no law that says you have to give up 4 straight hits including 3 home runs. Paplebon never flinched when Esco threw away the last out of the game last night, that’s the kind of leadership I am looking for.

      Incidentally, this was not JZimm’s only iffy game lately, truth be told he has been quite a disappointment this year.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:02 PM

        JZim allowed his frustration to carry over and you’re right. He also had the ability to shake off Lobaton. 1 bad pitch to Granderson was all it took in 1 bad inning.

        In comparison Scherzer had 1 bad inning last night in which he was squeezed also and gave up 3 runs and was kind of BABIP’d.

        Nats formula to win has to be 6+ innings of great starting pitching and shutdown relief along with 4 offensive runs scored.

        Only Joe Ross provided great starting pitching in this week’s rotation.

    • bowdenball - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:02 PM

      On the one hand, this is absolutely true.

      On the other hand, if Stephen Strasburg had been on the mound for that inning Nats fans would have met the plane at the airport with pitchforks and torches.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:04 PM

        True to that. Where’s all the anger at Fister for looking worse than Strasburg, Haren and EJax?

      • ArVAFan - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:12 PM

        Expectations. People do expect Stras to be better than Fister. Fister fails, and it’s met with “can’t his shoulder be sore (which shoulder)?” and a suggestion to keep Ross in the rotation.

        Stras fails, and the expectation gap triggers a lot more anger–and although Ross seems like a more than adequate replacement for Fister, the trade-off between Stras and Ross would leave Fister in the rotation = ouch.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:46 PM

        I think there’s been plenty of anger directed at the way Fister has sucked so far this year. Many more comments about that than about Zimmermann’s occasional poor outings. So I really don’t get who you’re defending JZ against here.

    • jmwolgin - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:42 PM

      One of the major reasons the Nats are currently playing just 5 games above .500 is the fact that a substantial fraction of their roster is (1) not living up to expectations or (2) playing below the level they performed at for their career. Some are doing surprisingly better, but the balance on the whole, is negative.

      Those not performing as well as last year:


      Some is due to injury; most not. On the other hand, some players are performing better than they had or joined the team in 2015, some as big surprises:

      Escobar (who has been fantastic)
      MAT (who has been a net positive)

      Some, a few, have been more or less the same as last year


      And then there’s Harper and Scherzer who have carried the team for most of the year.

      All in all, more negatives than positives.

      Still time to revert to the mean.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:54 PM

        Look how many games have been won by bench players with GW hits like den Dekker, Uggla and MAT.

        Last year I don’t think we could say 1 game was won by the bench.

        Unfortunately CRob is a net negative because of those errors at 1st base and overall poor defense and lack of power.

        The reason I have so much hope is because I know Rendon and Harper and Esco can carry this team.

        When Span comes back I think Werth has to move to part time and share time with MAT.

        It’s also time to start playing Espi some at SS.

        I think Fister has to go to the DL and Strasburg can take his place as they are perfectly lined up.

        That’s how I’d approach the team right now.

      • zmunchkin - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM

        OK. I need to rant a bit.

        RANT ON.

        As someone with an advanced degree is statistics, I need say for the record that folks need to realize that when discussing things like regression to the mean and predictive (as opposed to descriptive) analytics, and so on, you need to be aware of the basic concepts behind them.

        Regression to the mean does not apply here for a number of reasons. First, it is based on the underlying tenet of all things being equal – which does not apply to baseball players. They change and learn and adapt and their skills change as the grow older. And more importantly, we don’t know what the mean is. Maybe Ian has been playing above his mean for 3+ years. We simply don’t know.

        Next, metrics like BA are descriptive – they describe what happened and are based on easily quantifiable source data. Metrics like WAR are predictive – they are an estimate of the difference between reality and something that did not happen. If we had a parallel universe where everything was the same, except Desi was replaced, we could see how many more/less wins the Nats had. Someone did a lot of modeling to come up with the WAR (and f-WAR) formulas. But just like polling, there is a margin of error. But no one ever talks about the margin of error for WAR (e.g., WAR is 1.5 +/- XXXX).

        RANT OFF.

      • masterfishkeeper - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:32 PM

        Nice rant!

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:33 PM

    ‘We’ve got to get Espinosa into games. He’s earned some playing time & some ABs’ – Mike Rizzo.

    My question is if you feel that way, why haven’t you?

  4. adcwonk - Aug 5, 2015 at 1:59 PM

    I mighta gotten newposted . . . so, just for kicks:

    Since the All Star Break:

    Ian: .234/.290/.453/.743
    Espi: .216/.237/.243/.480

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:07 PM

      Yes, but but but his last 4 games have been more of Bad Desi.

      • adcwonk - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        No disagreement there — although he did get a hit in three of the four games (and 2 rbis and a run scored).

        But for those who keep saying that MW is an idiot for trotting out Ian, well, Espi’s hit a bad streak, too. Since he reached .262 on July 6 — he’s hit .189 since then.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    I’ve seen Vladimir Guerrero hit balls off his shoe tops for hits but have never seen Desi do it. Last night was the crescendo of ineptness for me to see in Desi.

    Should’ve been 4 Ks if not saved by a gift from the ump in his 4th at-bat but this was a matchup against Corbin that Desi should’ve capitalized on, and instead pulled his head off pitches and was a swing & miss machine of futility.

    Time for some gradual change and see if Espi can be a net positive!

  6. kiawah51 - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:09 PM

    Desi has pictures of MW. That’s teh only thing that’s keeping him on the field. For someone that will be gone next year they treat him with kid gloves. A joke. Hopefully MW follows him out the door

    • adcwonk - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:25 PM

      Desi has pictures of MW. That’s teh only thing that’s keeping him on the field.

      Well, that and Espi’s .189 batting average over the past month.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 5, 2015 at 3:01 PM

      Isn’t there something like Godwin’s Law for the “must have pictures of” trope?

      I’d suggest one if it weren’t already so well established.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 5, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        Of course, it’s pretty close to being an obsolete concept anyway. Pretty soon, we’ll have naked pictures of everybody, anyway.

  7. stoatva - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:18 PM

    I’m thinking Zimmerman, Rendon and Werth stock may be a good buying opportunity this week. Good contact, more and more regularly.

    • jfmii - Aug 5, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      It is a treat watching a Werth at-bat.

  8. stoatva - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:28 PM

    Pollock and Goldschmidt are a combined 1 for 15 through the first two games of the series. I confess to being apprehensive about lefty Gio’s being able to contain them tonight.

    • jfmii - Aug 5, 2015 at 3:07 PM

      Yes, Goldschmidt is a sleeping giant so far.

  9. stoatva - Aug 5, 2015 at 2:33 PM

    Espinosa’s only had one at bat since July 26 (when he went 2 for 4 against the Bucs). Give the man a fair chance, why don’t we?





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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