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: .293/.348/.524
Team ERA: 6.40
Runs per game: 6.3
Bryce Harper, RF: .462 RBI, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI
Has the reigning National League MVP finally returned to form? It’s too soon to say definitely, but Harper’s first four games post-neck injury have been a welcome sight for Nats fans. He’s notched four extra-base hits since Sunday (including Wednesday’s 481-foot bomb in Colorado) which matches the amount he had in the 23 games prior to week-long break. If Harper is able to get into a groove for the rest of the season, this offense will go from pretty good to downright scary.
Trea Turner, 2B: .414 AVG, 5 XBH, 4 SB
He’s played in 30 games this season, but Turner might already be establishing himself as one of the game’s most dynamic leadoff bats. That might seem like an overstatement, but look at the numbers: He’s hit six doubles, six triples and three home runs since the All-Star break, and is just four stolen bases away from taking over the team lead. For most of the season, Dusty Baker was looking for a true spark plug atop of his lineup after Ben Revere and Michael Taylor weren't getting the job done. In Turner, the Nats' skipper has finally found that missing piece.
Anthony Rendon, 3B: .292 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Coming into the season, the Nats were hoping that Rendon would be go back to being the 2014 version of himself. So far in the season's second half, he’s done just that. The 26-year-old third baseman is slashing .317/.377/.604 since the break, and leads the club with 17 extra-base hits over that stretch. And true to his “Tony Two-Bags” nickname, 11 of those knocks have gone for doubles, so he now leads all NL third basemen with 29 two-baggers on the season.
Stephen Strasburg, SP: 0-2, 7.0 IP, 19.29 ERA
What’s troubling for Strasburg recently was not just Wednesday’s career-worst outing against the Colorado Rockies; it’s that he’s inexplicably been trending downward over the month. Since July 21, he’s 2-4 with a 7.63 ERA over 30.2 innings. So what gives? Is there an unknown injury he's dealing with? Have hitters made adjustments? It's really hard to tell, especially considering that for most of 2016, he had established himself as one of the top arms in the NL, even being mentioned in the Cy Young conversation. Now, his season ERA has ballooned from 2.51 to 3.59 in only six starts. Ouch.
Ollie Perez, RP: 4 GP, 3.0 IP, 18.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP
The Nats are really in dire straits when it comes to their southpaw reliever situation. With Felipe Rivero traded a few weeks ago and Sammy Solis on the disabled list, it’s up to Perez to be the bullpen's lefty specialist, and he’s struggled mightily lately. He's allowed seven runs over his last 3 2/3 innings, yielded five hits and five walks in that span. And unless the Nats make a roster move to add another lefty, Perez is all they've got for now.