Nationals

Quick Links

Nationals Stock Watch: Harper's hot streak continues

usatsi_8562537.jpg

Nationals Stock Watch: Harper's hot streak continues

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

Record: 5-1

Team slash: .357/.396/.619

Team ERA: 5.26

Runs per game: 7.8

STOCK UP    

Bryce Harper, RF: 7 HR/ 16 RBI/ 2.181 OPS

The way he's going these days, we're not sure if he'll ever not be on this list. Harper, at 22, looks to be blossoming into the elite talent many projected him to be when he was drafted first overall in 2010. His power potential has always been there, but it's his patient approach at the plate this season that's taken his game to the next level. Even in at-bats when he's not launching bombs, he's opting not to over-swing, instead taking close pitches and showing that he's perfectly content shooting a single the other way if need be. What's scariest about Harper's ascension is that no one truly knows what his ceiling is. If this is just the beginning, what'll his numbers look like by season's end?

Wilson Ramos, C: .350 AVG/ 5 RBI/ .500 SLG

Speaking of reaching potential, Ramos' 15-game hitting streak highlights something Nats fans have been thinking for a few years: If only he can stay healthy. The 27-year-old catcher has played in more than 100 games just once in his career, and that was in 2011. So for the past few seasons, he hasn't really been able to show what he could do over the course of a full year. The Nats believe he can be one of the best hitting catchers in the league, and so far, he's proving them right. His .320 average is tops among qualified NL catchers, and is second in baseball only to Oakland's Stephen Vogt. 

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: .409 AVG/ 2 HR/ 8 RBI

Of all the Nats who are currently on a hot streak, Zimmerman's recent run at the plate has to be most satisfying for the club. Not only is it a reminder that, when healthy, the veteran infielder's still got it, but that his potential return to form makes this offense as lethal as any in the NL. For the season, he's hitting .349 with runners in scoring position. So while his season average isn't super high just yet (.244), he's doing more than enough to protect Harper in the lineup. 

Max Scherzer, SP: 14.0 IP/ 2-0/ 16 K

Scherzer may be the perfect example of why a looking at a pitcher's win total doesn't tell the whole story. He's been tagged with three losses, but has still been unquestionably the team's best starting pitcher thus far. He leads the rotation in seemingly all the major statistical categories, whether it's ERA (1.99), strikeouts (55) or WHIP (0.93). Sure, he's had a few blemishes here and there, but for the most part he's been the ace the Nats hoped he'd be when he was given that $210 million contract in January. 

STOCK DOWN 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 0-1/ 3.1 IP/ 18.90 ERA

It might officially be time for Nats fans to start worrying about Strasburg. After Tuesday night's outing, he's now been unable to get out of the fourth inning in consecutive starts. The first time was understandable, as he was taken out of the game as a precaution for fear of further injury. But in Arizona he turned in what was by far his worst start of the season, surrendering seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings. As always with him, it's hard to pinpoint the primary culprit for his struggles. Sometimes it's command, other times it's his mechanics, health, or any combination thereof. Whatever it is, it's put Strasburg in one of his biggest funks ever. His ERA on the season is an alarming 6.06, which as Mark Zuckerman noted earlier this morning, is good for 106th out of the 112 qualified major-league starters. Ouch. 

[RELATED: Alarming stretch has Strasburg befuddled]

Quick Links

Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

usatsi_10897058.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

MORE NATS NEWS:

Quick Links

Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

usatsi_10898057.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

TORONTO — Washington Nationals reliever Ryan Madson had spent the past couple of weeks thinking about how long he'd gone between giving up home runs.

He won't have to wonder about it any more after the Toronto Blue Jays burned him with back-to-back blasts.

Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte broke a tie with consecutive home runs in the eighth inning, Randal Grichuk added a pair of solo shots and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 8-6 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez and Solarte connected off Madson (1-3) as the Blue Jays won their seventh consecutive home game. Hernandez hit his 12th home run while Solarte's was his team-leading 15th.

"Everybody knows Madson is one of the best relievers in the league," Hernandez said. "We made some adjustments, took good swings, and hit it hard."

Madson last gave up a home run on June 4, 2017, while pitching for Oakland against Washington, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run shot.

"I've been thinking about it a little bit because it seemed like it had been a while," Madson said of his year-plus streak. "It's kind of been on my mind for the last couple of weeks."

Madson, who allowed two home runs in all of 2017, blamed poor fastball command for his rough outing.

"I envisioned the inning going a lot different than that, obviously," he said. "The stuff was good but no command of it."

Hernandez went 3 for 4 and was hit by a pitch, reaching bases four times.

Grichuk went 3 for 3 with a bases-loaded walk. He homered off Tanner Roark in the second and went deep again off Shawn Kelley in the fifth. The homers were the sixth and seven of the season for Grichuk, five of which have come in June.

Kevin Pillar and Kendrys Morales each had two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays, who are 6-2 in interleague play this season.

"Every game we win means a lot," Hernandez said. "We're just trying to get closer to the fight for first and second (wild card) spots."

Washington has lost five of six.

"You never want to get swept but I'm glad we swung the bats today," manager Dave Martinez said. "We haven't been swinging very well. I'll take our chances very time we score six runs."

Grichuk snapped a 5-5 tie with an RBI single off Justin Miller in the seventh but the Nationals answered in the eighth with Brian Goodwin's RBI single off Toronto's Tyler Clippard.

Ryan Tepera (4-2) pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for the win.

Slumping Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper started as the designated hitter and went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .217.

Harper, who has seven hits in his past 51 at bats, flied out to leave the bases loaded against Tepera in the eighth.

Neither starter lasted more than four innings. Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio allowed three runs and six hits while Roark allowed four runs and eight hits.

"I stunk today," Roark said.

THIEVERY

Toronto allowed a season-worst five stolen bases, four of them by Michael A. Taylor. The five steals matched Washington's season-high.

CATCH WITH DAD

On Father's Day, the sons and daughters of several Blue Jays tossed ceremonial first pitches to their dads, a group that included Solarte, Pillar, Morales, Aledmys Diaz and pitchers J.A Happ and John Axford.

FATHERHOOD

Gaviglio left before the game was over to fly home to Washington state after learning his wife had gone into labor with the couple's first child.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Matt Adams (left hand) was out of the lineup for a second straight day. Adams was hit by a pitch while attempting to bunt Friday. Daniel Muprhy made his second straight start at first.

Blue Jays: OF Steve Pearce (strained left oblique) went 2 for 2 with a walk in his second rehab game at Triple-A Buffalo. Pearce went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk Saturday.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Washington returns home Monday to face the New York Yankees. The teams will resume a May 15 game that was suspended with the score tied 3-3 in the middle of the sixth inning. Following the completion of that game, the Nationals and Yankees will make up a May 16 game that was postponed by rain. RHP Erick Fedde (0-1, 5.91) will start the nine-inning game. The Yankees have not named a starter.

MORE NATS NEWS: