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: .214/.276/.377
Team ERA: 2.80
Runs per game: 3
Wilson Ramos, C: .438 AVG, 2 HR, 4 RBI
The best hitting catcher in the majors this season hasn’t slowed done one bit, posting another strong week that was highlighted by his go-ahead solo shot against Madison Bumgarner in Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Giants. At this point, barring a collapse, a Silver Slugger Award seems all but certain for Ramos. And while he's at it, he could very well wind up winning a few more accolades. With a .336 batting average, he could conceivably catch teammate Daniel Murphy’s mark of .346 to win the NL batting title.
Mark Melancon, RP: 3 GP, 0 H, 2 SVs
Nice, calm, drama-free ninth innings. It’s what Nats fans have been clamoring for all season, and it’s exactly what they’re getting so far from Melancon. Since the 31-year-old reliever was traded from Pittsburgh to Washington on July 30, he’s allowed just one base runner in his five outings as a National. And in the two save opportunities he's had, he’s pitched a pair of perfect ninths. So far, so good for the new closer.
Gio Gonzalez, SP: 2-0, 12 IP, 12 K, 2 BB
Gonzalez hasn’t been dominant, per se, but he’s rebounded after enduring rough stretch in the middle of the season. Since July 10, he’s 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA, looking more like the pitcher he was in April before the tailspin. As is, the Nats starting rotation is one of the best in the game, with three members sporting ERAs under 3.00. But if Gonzalez can also get going down the stretch, this group can become special.
Danny Espinosa, SS: .176 AVG, 0 XBH, 7 K, 0 BB
Remember Espinosa’s torrid June? He hit .309 with nine home runs and 21 RBI and looked like the best eight-hole hitter in the game. But that hot streak is already starting to feel like a long time ago. Since July 6, the Nats' shortstop is slashing .155/.255/.206 with only five extra-base hits and seven RBI. Sure, it was unreasonable to expect that he’d continue to go off as he did six weeks ago, but it’s not still ideal to see such a precipitous drop in production.