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Stock Watch: During tough week, Strasburg stands out

Aug 20, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

Aug 19, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-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: 2-4

Team slash: .239/.332/.410

Team ERA: 5.76

Runs per game:  5.16


STOCK UP 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 2 GS/ 1-1/ 1.38 ERA 

The Nats rotation’s had a pretty tough time of late, struggling so often that the title of “most reliable starter” has changed seemingly every other week. But right now that throne belongs to Strasburg, who’s been pretty steady both times he’s come off the disabled list this season. In his last six starts he’s 4-1 with a 1.26 ERA, 43 strikeouts and just six walks. So uh, perhaps it was too soon to bury him, yeah? It pretty much goes without saying that if the Nats are to turn this around and catch the Mets in the standings, they’ll need Strasburg to continue to look like vintage Strasburg the rest of the way.

Ian Desmond, SS: .348 AVG/ .988 OPS/ 5 RBI 

Make it two weeks in a row that Desmond has made it here, so perhaps we’re finally one step closer to saying he’s out of his season-long rut (for real this time). He’s having his best offensive month of the year by a landslide, hitting .313 in August with four home runs, 13 RBI and a .934 OPS. The key is that he’s seeing the ball much better; he’s only struck out 14 times this month compared to the 33 times he whiffed in both May and June. Like many Nats hitters this year, he’s not going to finish the season with gaudy numbers. But does that even matter anymore? All that matters is putting together five good weeks of baseball, and Desmond is showing signs that he could do just that.

 

STOCK DOWN 

Max Scherzer, SP:  0-1/ 3.0 IP/ 18.00 ERA  

Remember when Scherzer was dominant in June and seemed like a shoe-in for the NL Cy Young? Yeah, that seems like eons ago now. Much like the team as a whole, his season has unraveled quickly. His August ERA has ballooned to 7.80, which seems unfathomable given how impressive he was during the first half of the season. For a big stretch of 2015, he was the guy the club could count on to be the stopper. Now what?

Anthony Rendon, 2B: .071 AVG/.143 OPS/ 6 K 

It’s been nearly an entire season, and fans are still waiting for Rendon to resemble the guy that finished fifth in NL MVP voting in 2014. Instead, for whatever reason, he’s looked like a shell of himself. Sure, he’s had to fight through two different DL stints this year, but he’s had enough at-bats that we’re well past the point of “shaking off the rust”. It seems Matt Williams has reached the same conclusion, giving Rendon a few days off in Colorado to insert Danny Espinosa in the lineup to try to generate a spark.

Wilson Ramos, C: .450 OPS/ 0 XBH 

The irony of Ramos’ struggles this season is that they have nothing to do with health, which has usually been the case with him. Now, it’s just about being plain ineffective. Prior to 2015, fans were clamoring to see what his numbers would look like over a full season. But four-and-a-half months into the season? Not so much. He’s homerless in August and has a .454 OPS (!) since July. Ouch.

  1. unterp - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    Maybe a slight tweak of the hamstring can get the Buffalo going…

  2. jfmii - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    Well, it was one little base hit for the OPS, but Wilson’s 2-out single last night was rather important

  3. 3on2out - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:44 AM

    Ramos struggles defensively are an issue too. He frequently demonstrates lackluster enthusiasm in blocking balls in the dirt, does not excel at pitch calling and his remarkable inability to catch a one-hop throw and tag a runner continues. I wouldn’t mind seeing Lobaton more. Much more. Maybe a couple weeks of the Buffalo playing twice a week instead of five times would do him good. Sure as hell couldn’t hurt.

    • jd - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:51 AM

      Wilson Ramos is a flawed catcher, no disagreement, especially offensively but he’s still better overall than Lobaton. Ramos grades out as an average NL catcher and while his game is frustrating to some people he’s not really that big of a problem. Also he’s been a lot worse this year than other years so there is potential for a bounce back.

      • micksback1 - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        agreed, but I will say his 2 out single last night was huge.

        I have been disappointed with his at bats for the most part

        hope Nats pursue Weiters in 2016

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:35 PM

        I assume that if you offered to a GM a catcher who was guaranteed to produce league-average numbers (measured in both offensive and defensive terms) for the next five seasons they’d jump at the chance to sign him. Catcher — to me, at least — seems like the MLB position that is the least conducive to any sort of long-term (or even mid-term) planning.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:39 PM

        Ramos is better than Lobaton defensively. It’s not particularly close. Lobaton is a better pitch framer, though not as much as FP and some others would have you believe. Ramos is above average at pitch framing, Lobaton a bit more above average. But I have to wonder if that attempt to pluck pitches back into the strike zone is why Lobaton is letting far more baseballs get past him. Ramos has a higher range factor (he makes more plays per game) and throws out more base stealers. The latter is doubly impressive given that fewer batters attempt to steal when Ramos is catching. So the ones that he is throwing out tends to be the better base stealers (the marginal guys aren’t running at all when Ramos catches).

        I saw on Fangraphs that David Cameron noted that Ramos this season has been a “good field, no hit” catcher when the Nationals were expecting much more.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Aug 20, 2015 at 1:12 PM

        Yeah, you could call Ramos a “catch and throw” guy, except that he has that annoying habit of not being able to, y’know, catch the frigging ball on plays at the plate.

  4. micksback1 - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:54 AM

    Jayson Werth the past 2 games looks like the player from 2012. Boy if there was ever a bet I wanted to lose more, now is the one.

    GO NATS!!!!

    • jfmii - Aug 20, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      You don’t have go back to 2012 for Werth — his production last year was huge

      • micksback1 - Aug 20, 2015 at 3:54 PM

        you are correct about 2014. however, from the last week of the 2014 season thru the posts eason and up until the last 2 games. Werth was having the worst stretch of his career. Maybe he will roll now. Hopefully, rendon will get going and who knows, maybe Span will come back and see the ball as quick as R Zim has

  5. micksback1 - Aug 20, 2015 at 11:57 AM

    Clint Robinson’s bear hug in dugout for Werth is what I have been looking for. Saw urgency in clubhouse for the first time in a long time

      • Section 222 - Aug 20, 2015 at 3:12 PM

        Haha. Just because you are playing with urgency doesn’t mean you have to enjoy being hugged by C-Rob.

      • natsfan1a - Aug 20, 2015 at 3:39 PM

        Maybe he’s just not a public displays of affection type of guy. With the possible exception of that very tell dog of his.

      • micksback1 - Aug 20, 2015 at 3:55 PM

        I was refering to Clint and the reaction of the etam more than Werth’s reaction, which, i think Jayson appreciated very much

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 20, 2015 at 5:10 PM

        I said at the time, Werth looked like a cat being hugged. “Just go away. Now.”

    • natsfan1a - Aug 20, 2015 at 3:39 PM

      very *tall* dog of his

  6. Doc - Aug 20, 2015 at 2:33 PM

    Ramos might regain his power stroke, but no bets on that.

    The shelf life of a catcher’ grinding career is almost as short as that of a pitcher. Still I would have hoped for more from Ramos.

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