Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see which player's stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .271/.370/.427
Team ERA: 3.29
Runs per game: 5.16
Daniel Murphy, 2B: .400 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1.204 OPS
After somewhat of a mini-slump earlier in the month, Murphy has gotten back to his old ways over the last week. He's notched three multi-hit efforts in his last five games, raising his MLB-best average up to .352. Of course, it probably didn't hurt that he got a chance to play the New York Mets, a team he clearly loves tormenting; in nine games against his old team this season, Murphy is 15-for-35 (.428) with four home runs and 11 RBI. It's not hard to figure that he probably didn't appreciate the Amazin's letting him walk in free agency last winter, so he's responded by making a legitimate case for himself as the NL MVP through the season's first half.
Wilson Ramos, C: .429 AVG, 4 RBI, 1.002 OPS
As good as Murphy has been, who'd have thought he'd be in a tight battle with his locker mate for the NL batting title? That's how good Ramos has been has been all season, but particularly of late. This month, he has a slashline of .360/.404/.628 with six home runs and 18 RBI, and his average for the season is at .339, second in the league behind Murphy.
Tanner Roark, SP: 1-0, 7.0 IP, 0 ER
If you want to thank someone for snapping the Nats' recent seven-game losing skid, you can start with Roark. The 29-year-old right hander played the role of stopper Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee, giving his team a chance by gutting out seven innings of shutout ball on 95 pitches. He wasn't exactly dominant, but he did what others in the rotation were struggling to do throughout the skid: work his way out of jams. It seemed every time the Brewers threatened, he was able to get the third out of the inning without incurring any damage, which was especially important in a game in which the Nats didn't score their first run until the seventh inning. He may not be considered the staff ace, but for one day, he looked like it.
Gio Gonzalez, SP: 0-1, 3.0 IP, 6 ER
Gonzalez' dramatic descent continued last Saturday as he put forth his shortest outing of the season against the Brewers, allowing six runs on six hits in just three innings of work. When he's going bad, he's typically nibbling around the plate and struggling with pitch efficiency. Case in point: he only registered one walk vs. Milwaukee, but hit two batsmen and wound up needing 69 pitches to get nine outs. Couple that with the fact that his changeup is not as effective against right handers as it was earlier in the year, and he doesn't look much like the pitcher that just a month and a half ago had some thinking he was on the verge of a career renaissance.
In his first eight outings of the season, Gonzalez owned a 3-1 record and had allowed a total of 10 earned runs. In his last seven, he's 0-6 and has given up 35 runs. Ouch. Though the Nats aren't likely to give up on him at this stage of the season, he certainly can't afford to have his slide continue for much longer, either.