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Nats Stock Watch: Espinosa's torrid week paces Nats' offense

Nats Stock Watch: Espinosa's torrid week paces Nats' offense

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

Record: 4-3

Team slash: .254/.344/.468

Team ERA: 3.13

Runs per game: 5.8



Danny Espinosa, SS: .385 AVG, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 1.369 OPS

It’d be a crime if the reigning NL Player of the Week didn’t receive some attention here, wouldn't it? Once a sub-.200 hitter in early May, Espinosa has since rewarded Dusty Baker’s faith in him by establishing himself as one of the top power-hitting shortstops in baseball. With 18 home runs, he’s tied for the team lead with Bryce Harper — just like everyone expected, right? — and is good for second in the majors in that category among his position group. 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-0, 6.2 IP, 0 H 

In his first start since coming off the disabled list, the Nats weren’t likely to push Strasburg to pitch deep in Sunday’s game against the Reds. That is, until he began to flirt with history. The team’s conservative approach was tested as the 27-year-old righty threw 6 2/3 hitless innings on 109 pitches, making everyone in the stadium wonder if he’d be allowed to go for the no-no. Understandably, though, Baker removed him from the game as it was apparent his pitch count was too high to realistically expect him to complete the no-hit bid.

Though he didn’t get a chance to finish the job, the consolation prize for Strasburg was that he moved to 11-0, becoming the first National League pitcher to do so since 1985. Interestingly enough, the last MLB starter to go 11-0 in his first 15 outings was his rotation mate Max Scherzer, who went on to win the AL Cy Young Award in 2013. It’s too early to tell if Strasburg’s season will end with those kind of accolades, but he’s certainly put himself in good position to be considered.

Jonathan Papelbon, RP: 2 GP, 1 SV, 5 K

If this is the version of Papelbon the Nats get down the stretch, upgrading the bullpen may not be as dire of a need as originally thought. In his first two appearances since coming off the disabled list, the 35-year-old reliever has not only been efficient, he’s looked dominant.

The most encouraging sign is that he appears to be missing bats more often than he was before his DL stint. He’s registered five strikeouts in his last two outings, inducing a total of six swing-and-misses between them. For comparison, he notched seven whiffs in his previous five outings combined.


Joe Ross, SP: 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 15-day disabled list

Who knows how serious Ross’ right shoulder inflammation is, but it's clear he hasn't been the same pitcher he was during the early part of the season. While he hasn’t been terrible by any means, he’s allowed three or more runs in five out of his last six outings. And after his velocity was noticeably down in the later innings of Saturday’s start against the Reds, there was a sense afterward that he might get some time off. With the move to place him on the disabled list, perhaps he can regain his form and a few ticks on his sinker, which is a vital part of his repetoire.

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.