Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .240/.290/.399
Team ERA: 4.42
Runs per game: 3.16
Danny Espinosa, 2B/LF: .438 AVG/ 2 HR/ 4 RBI
It's hard to believe, but Espinosa has quietly been one of the great stories on this Nationals club this season. Thought to be a part-time player heading into the season, he's second on the team in home runs (8), is as versatile as they come and -- at the moment -- can't be left out of the lineup. Though the return of everyday second baseman Anthony Rendon means Matt Williams has to get creative to give Espinosa regular at-bats, with the way the offense is struggling to score, he might not have a choice.
Casey Janssen, RP: 3 GP/ 3.0 IP/ 0.00 ERA
The bullpen has struggled of late, but it's not Janssen that's been the problem. In fact, other than his rough outing in Cincinnati (he allowed four runs in an inning of work), he's been more than solid. In his seven other appearances, he's allowed no runs on three hits in 6 2/3 frames. Given the state of the rest of the 'pen, the Nats will certainly take that every time.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: .063 AVG/ .118 OBP/ .063 SLG
Nats fans have been wondering what's been wrong with Zimmerman for a few weeks now. But it finally was revealed several days ago that the first baseman has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot for most of the season. Whether or not that's been the primary cause for his struggles is unknown, but the bottom line is that Zimmerman hasn't been himself, and the Nats need more from him. He's currently mired in a 4-for-46 stretch, and as Mark Zuckerman noted, ranks last among qualifying MLB first baseman in both OPS and WAR. If he can't hit his way out of this funk, you wonder if Williams might tinker with the lineup to find better protection behind Bryce Harper.
Ian Desmond, SS: .125 AVG/ .125 OBP/ .292 SLG
After a good May, Desmond has fallen back to earth a bit this month. Some have argued that being dropped to sixth in the order after Rendon's return has had an effect on him. Who knows if that's the real reason, but the numbers don't lie: Desmond is hitting .170/.214/.259 in the six-hole, as opposed to .293/.341/.455 when batting second.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 0-1/ 5.0 IP/ 7.20 ERA
Yes, this might be a bit unfair given how well Zimmermann had been pitching prior to Sunday's outing vs. the Cubs, but he had an off day against a solid lineup to drop his record to 5-3 in 12 starts. The tough thing for him these days is that he almost has to be himself at all times; the bullpen is struggling, the other starters not named Max Scherzer are either injured or inconsistent, and the margin for error is slim because of the offense's recent struggles. So the Nats can't afford to have Zimmermann go through a slump too.