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: .261/.323/423
Team ERA: 2.11
Runs per game: 3.4
Tanner Roark, SP: 2 GS, W, 13.0 IP, 1 ER, 15 K
It didn’t seem possible that Roark would be able to replicate his breakout 2014 season, which was his first as a full-time starter. Two years later, after his reinsertion to the rotation, he’s somehow outdone himself.
Against the Mets on Wednesday, Roark delivered his ninth outing in of seven or more shutout innings — the most in the big leagues. The performance earned him his 15th win of the season, and he entered Thursday ranked fifth among National League starters with a 2.75 ERA. If he pitches like this into October, baseball fans around the country will find out just how good he’s been.
Gio Gonzalez, SP: W, 7.0 IP, ER, 5 K
It hasn’t always been pretty, but Gonzalez has somewhat stabilized his season over the last month and a half. It may not seem like it, but the lefty earned victories in five out of his last eight starts, and hasn’t lost since July 31. Sure, the ERA in that span is an underwhelming 4.22, but he’s far from the inconsistent pitcher he was earlier in the year.
The issue, of course, is how important Gonzalez might become if Stephen Strasburg is unavailable in the postseason. If he can find a way to pitch as he did this past week against the Phillies, the Nats just might have a chance.
Jayson Werth, LF: .087 AVG, 8 K, .279 OPS
After putting up his best power numbers of the season in August, Werth has slowed down quite a bit since the calendar flipped to September. Last month, he hit eight home runs and four doubles while amassing 16 RBI. This month? He’s 9-for-45 (.200) without an extra-base hit and just one RBI. Perhaps this is just a short-lived funk, but the Nats need the 37-year-old to rediscover his mojo in time for the playoffs.
Koda Glover, RP: 3 GP, 2.1 IP, 4 ER, 2 HR
The last week provided quite the education for Glover, who experienced struggles for the first time since being called up to the big leagues. He yielded the game-tying three-run home run Friday night against the Phillies — the first time he allowed a long ball in his career — and then gave up a solo shot in his next appearance two days later. Though the Nats wound up winning both games, it's still important to see how Glover bounces back. Lately, Dusty Baker has used the 23-year-old rookie in late-inning, high leverage situations, perhaps preparing him for similar spots in October. If that's the case, Glover’s got to show he can put rough outings behind him —and quickly.