Sep 16, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .240/.315/.389
Team ERA: 2.67
Runs per game: 3.5
Bryce Harper, RF: .450 AVG/ 5 HR/ 1.772 OPS
Is there any doubt these days as to who the NL MVP should be? Though a few pundits have recently pondered whether or not the red-hot Yoenis Cespedes deserves the nod, he just hasn’t put together the type of season that Harper has. While Cespedes has definitely made a late run, it’s not like the Nats’ 22-year-old superstar has been slacking in September. He has eight home runs in his last 11 games, raising his total to an NL-leading 39 long balls. Add in the fact that his slash line of .338/.467/.667 is the best in the majors, and there really shouldn’t be much of a debate anymore. Sure, the Nationals didn’t play well enough as a team to make a run at the postseason. But that shouldn’t take away from Harper’s value, which is undeniable.
Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-1/ 1.76 ERA/ 27 K/ 2 BB
Before being put on the disabled list in late May, Strasburg’s ERA was shockingly high at 6.55. So it’s no surprise that during the DL stint, not only did he work on getting healthier but he also wanted to fix the mechanical issues that had clearly affected both his velocity and command. Ever since, he’s been a different pitcher; in his last 10 starts, he’s 6-2 with a 2.07 ERA while recording 80 strikeouts to just nine walks. He’s been in vintage form, utilizing his fastball that touches 98 mph to set up a devastating curveball in two-strike counts to finish off hitters. While the Nats’ starting rotation as a whole has disappointed, Strasburg’s in-season rebound is undoubtedly one of the bright spots of 2015.
Ian Desmond, SS: .125 AVG/ .160 OBP/ .125 SLG
So much for Desmond’s resurgence. After a solid August, the Nats’ shortstop has regressed to being the struggling hitter he was earlier in the season. At this point, no hot streak will be enough to salvage what has been a down year for a player who will be looking to cash in on a big contract in a few months.
Drew Storen, RP: 0.2 IP/ HR
If this is it for Storen, what a tough way to go out. After yielding another go-ahead home run last Wednesday, the 28-year-old reliever reportedly broke his thumb while slamming the lock box at his locker in frustration, effectively ending his season. Of all the Nats players who have turned in subpar performances this year, Storen’s fall from grace was by far the most dramatic. To be considered one of the best closers in the game, only to have the team essentially demote him for veteran Jonathan Papelbon was one thing. But to then routinely have meltdowns in his opportunities as a set up man is another. It’s fair to assume that Storen will ask for a trade this winter, and that the Nats will do whatever they can to accommodate him. However, his value is probably at an all-time low, which is a shame for someone who despite all his talent and runs of dominance, will always be remembered for what he didn’t do in the biggest moments.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
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.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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