Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .294/.361/.462
Team ERA: 4.35
Runs per game: 6.0
Max Scherzer, SP: 1-0/ 9.0 IP/ 0.00 ERA
Is there anything Scherzer can't do? After his latest outing on Sunday afternoon, that's certainly a fair question. The Nats' ace turned in not just his best start of the year, or the even the best of his career; he very well could have had the greatest pitching performance in franchise history. The numbers speak for themselves: Nine innings, no runs allowed and 16 strikeouts, including 27 swings-and-misses. Were it not for a meekly-hit opposite field single into shallow right by Brewers centerfielder Carlos Gomez, we're probably talking about a no-hitter or perfect game. Scherzer was so dominant, so in command that Milwaukee hitters were clearly more and more flummoxed as the game wore on. From his fastball to his changeup to his slider, he had everything working to near perfection. Scherzer sports a 1.93 ERA and has an NL-best 113 strikeouts. So far, so good for the $210 million man.
Bryce Harper, RF: .500 AVG/ 2 HR/ 1.480 OPS
Ho hum, just another appearance in this section for the NL's leading vote-getter in the All-Star Game. While it may seem like he's cooling off because he isn't hitting as many long balls as he did last month, he's still having a solid June; Harper's hitting .417 with four home runs this month with a .525 on-base percentage. So while he's not going to hit 13 homers every month like he did in May, he's showing that his new-and-improved approach at the plate yields more than just power numbers.
Wilson Ramos, C: 3 HR/ 7 RBI/ 1.066 OPS
Yes, Ramos compiled a lot of these numbers during Tuesday night's drubbing of the Rays, but he's had a pretty solid stretch recently. He has hits in seven of his last 10 games with four home runs and nine RBI. The offense is still looking for some consistency (Tuesday's game aside), and Ramos heating up would be a good way to make the lineup more balanced to take the pressure off Harper.
Ian Desmond, SS: .115 AVG/ 14 K/ .294 OPS
Desmond has gone through some dry spells before, but we're not sure if we've seen him go through an albatross like this. In his last 10 games, he has just four hits and compiled 17 strikeouts. Ouch. It doesn't seem like health is an issue, so it's hard to pinpoint what exactly is the problem. Obviously, the over-arching themes for his season is that he's in a contract year and is under pressure to perform to get big money in the offseason. Is the pressure getting to him? No one knows for sure, but right now he's pressing and not resembling the player who won three straight Silver Sluggers.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 0-1/ 3.1 IP/ 16.20 ERA
We mentioned last week that the Nats can't afford to have Zimmermann go through a slump given the rest of the rotation's inconsistency. Unfortunately for him, he turned in his second straight rough outing, allowing six earned runs to the lowly Brewers Friday night. In two starts, Zimmermann's ERA has jumped from 2.88 to 3.74. This isn't cause for concern just yet, but it has to be a bit troubling for Matt Williams that as of now he only has one starter in Scherzer he knows he can count on.