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Stock Watch: Nats starters continuing to shine

Stock Watch: Nats starters continuing to shine

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

Record: 2-2

Team slash: .209/.280/.346

Team ERA: 2.00

Runs per game: 4

 

STOCK UP 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 8.0 IP, 1-0, ER

Will Strasburg ever lose? With the way he’s been going this year, it’s a legitimate question to ask.

The 28-year-old right hander raised his record to 13-0 last Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming the first National League starting pitcher with that mark since 1912. But while wins are nice, they don’t always tell the story of how a pitcher’s performing. And if you throw away the record, Strasburg is still up there with some of the best arms in the game. His 2.51 ERA is good for seventh in the majors — ahead of Jose Fernandez, Jake Arrieta and Johnny Cueto — and he ranks sixth in the majors in strikeouts with 138.

It’ll be a tough taks for Strasburg to beat out the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young Award, but considering what he’s done, he’s clearly put himself in that discussion.

Tanner Roark, SP: 8.0 IP, 1-0, 0 ER

Not only is it possible that Roark has regained his 2014 form as a starter — he might be better. The 29-year-old right hander was dominant Saturday night against the Pirates, tossing eight shutout frames to raise his record to 9-5 and drop his ERA to 2.82.

What is it that makes Roark so effective? He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, nor does he throw a knee-buckling breaking pitch. And yet he’s among the best starters in the game when it comes to avoiding hard contact, averaging an exit velocity of 87.8 mph per BaseballSavant.com. His stuff may not wow you on the radar gun, but for whatever reason, hitters are having a tough time squaring him up this season.  Either way, the result is that he's become one of the better under-the-radar starters around the league. 

STOCK DOWN

Bryce Harper, RF: 2-for-17, .328 OPS

The reigning MVP’s slump has now extended into its third month, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be able to recapture his April form before the season is over.

Since April 27, Harper has a slashline of .227/.380/.372 with 10 home runs and 28 RBI. What’s so bizarre about his season is that it doesn't appear as if he's lost great deal of plate discipline, which was his biggest strength last season. In fact, according to Fangraphs.com, his swing-and-miss percentage this year is actually down compared to his MVP campaign, dropping from 10.8 percent to 8.4. So what’s the issue? Well, he’s making more contact on pitches outside of the zone (60.9 percent in 2015 to 67.9 this season), and more often than not it’s resulting in weak grounders or shallow fly balls. 

While Harper has shown glimpses here and there of his prodigious power — he still leads the team in home runs with 19 — he simply hasn’t been able to string a long ball barrage together like he’s shown he can.

Ben Revere, CF: 1-for-9, 2 K, .311 OPS

It’s almost August, and the Nats have yet to see the Revere they hoped they’d be getting when they traded for him last winter. Part of that is due to the oblique injury he suffered on Opening Day, but the team may not be able to afford to wait for him to resemble a guy who’s hit .288 in his career.

With Revere struggling, the Nats have opted to turn their centerfield spot into a platoon situation, inserting Michael Taylor into the lineup whenever the team goes up against a left handed starter. But now comes rumors that the front office might be shopping for more outfield help before the non-waiver trade deadline. If a move is made, where does that leave Revere?

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Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm