Sep 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .254/.307/.400
Team ERA: 3.74
Runs per game: 3.14
Matt den Dekker, OF: .444 AVG/ 2 HR/ 1.418 OPS
Even though he hasn’t had many opportunities to play, den Dekker has made a good case for himself recently to stick around next year as an option off the bench. One thing that helps him is that he’s shown a bit more power than his 6-1, 209 pound frame would suggest; his monster shot to centerfield Sunday afternoon that was measured at 449 feet. In his career, den Dekker has just six homers, but five of them have been hit this season with the Nationals.
Ian Desmond, SS: .348 AVG/ .375 OBP/ .522 SLG
The soon-to-be free agent shortstop is trying to close out his tenure with the Nationals on an upswing, despite what’s undoubtedly been a disappointing season. He posted solid numbers on his final home stand, and was treated to a well-deserved curtain call Sunday as Matt Williams substituted him in the top of the ninth inning. The ovation he received was one of the best moments of the year, even if it was quickly overshadowed by one the worst.
Jonathan Papelbon, RP: 2.2 IP/ 5 R/ 1.88 WHIP
It’s hard for a player’s stock to plummet further and as quickly as Papelbon’s has in just one week. But when you’re involved with in altercations in five days — one with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and the other with teammate Bryce Harper — things can change drastically. The image of the 34-year-old closer putting his hand around Harper’s neck will resonate with Nats fans well into the offseason, as Sunday’s incident was unquestionably the ugliest moment of this already-disappointing season. As Mark Zuckerman eloquently pointed out, the fracas was more than just an isolated incident; it was a snapshot of all that’s gone wrong for this club in 2015. Mike Rizzo believed that by trading for Papelbon and sliding Drew Storen to the setup role, he found solutions for both the eighth and ninth inning in one move. Instead, Storen’s season spiraled out of control while Papelbon didn’t exactly show that he’s the dominant closer the Nats thought they were getting. He allowed runs in seven of his 22 appearances since the trade, and was charged with two blown saves and two losses. For him to then attack the presumptive NL MVP in the dugout for appearing to not run out a fly ball makes you wonder if that’s the last time we’ll see Papelbon in a Nats uniform.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 0-1/ 5.0 IP/ 6 ER
Of course, the bullpen’s shortcomings aren’t the only reason why the Nats aren’t going to the playoffs. The starting rotation that was hailed as the best in baseball has vastly underperformed, and Zimmermann is very much apart of that group. His season numbers (13-9, 3.68 ERA) aren’t that bad, but he just hasn’t been as consistent as he was from 2011-2014. His WHIP of 1.21 is his highest since 2010, and he’s allowed 24 home runs — the most he’s yielded in a single season.
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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