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Nats Stock Watch: Bullpen has a rough week


Nats Stock Watch: Bullpen has a rough week

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

Record: 2-4

Team slash: .230/.307/.320

Team ERA: 4.94

Runs per game:  2.83



Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 1-0/ 8.0 IP/ 0.00 ERA

During a week in which most of the starters had off-nights or were injured, Zimmermann's performance Tuesday afternoon start against the Blue Jays was the rotation's bright spot --  and it wasn't even close. He didn't allow a run over eight innings, helping out a struggling bullpen (more on that later) while handing Toronto its first shut out of the season. The outing also continued a hot streak for Zimmerman, who is starting to resemble his old self lately; in his last four outings, he's allowed just three earned runs combined over 28 innings. As a result, his ERA has now dropped to 2.88 while he's run his record to 5-2. 

Bryce Harper, RF: .313 AVG/ 1.063 OPS

Interestingly enough, this has been the week where Harper's cooled off a bit, and yet he still lead the team in average and OPS over the last seven days. Indeed, everyone's favorite selfie-taking, beef-creating right fielder keeps chugging along, continuing to stake his claim as the best player in the NL this season. The 22-year-old who was voted the sport's most overrated player before the year started now leads the league in home runs (18), walks (45), slugging (.718) and OPS (1.188). Hard to overrate that, yeah? 

Yunel Escobar, 3B: .304 AVG/ .385 OBP

Of all the moves the Nats made over the winter, perhaps the most underrated to this point was the team's acquisition of Escobar. Through two months, he might be the team's most consistent hitter (besides you-know-who, of course). He hasn't provided big-time power, but he's a steadying presence in a lineup that's been without key pieces for stretches. In fact, it's not Harper who leads the team in hits -- it's Escobar. And to think, he wasn't even slated to be the everyday third baseman before the season started. 


Blake Treinen, RP: 3 GP/ 15.43 ERA/ 2.57 WHIP 

For the majority of May, the bullpen looked like it had finally turned the corner. But after an ugly series in Cincinnati and a poor showing Tuesday night against the Blue Jays, perhaps the journey to get to Drew Storen in the ninth could be a struggle all year. To be fair to Treinen, the Nats were already trailing in two of his three appearances this past week, albeit by small margins. But he was unable to keep those deficits manageable, leading to a 5-2 loss in Cincy and a 7-3 defeat at home against Toronto. 

Casey Janssen, RP:  3 GP/ 12.00 ERA/ 2.33 WHIP 

Janssen's return from injury gave the Nats hope that perhaps the back end of the bullpen would be stabilized. And though it's too soon to say whether or not he'll do that, his weekend outing against the struggling Reds can't be encouraging. Clinging to a 5-4 eighth inning lead, the 33-year-old righty couldn't make it stand up, as he was shelled for four earned runs and was charged with a loss. Even with Janssen back in the fold, it seems Matt Williams hasn't been able to rely on someone to handle the eighth inning with consistency. Whether he goes with Janssen, Treinen or someone else, so far none of the options have been able to fill the void created by Tyler Clippard's departure. 

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Can slumping Nationals, Gio Gonzalez end losing streak Monday vs. Padres?

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Can slumping Nationals, Gio Gonzalez end losing streak Monday vs. Padres?

When the Washington Nationals visited San Diego on May 7-9, they won the first two games of a three-game series to move within 1 1/2 games of the National League West lead.

At the time, the Nationals were on a bit of a run and the Padres were reeling with a 13-24 record.

Two weeks after that series, the Padres and Nationals meet again in Washington, D.C (7:05 p.m. ET, Monday). And the fortunes of the two teams have changed a bit.

Since winning that series finale at Petco Park to avoid being swept by the Nationals, the Padres have gone 7-4 and are riding a three-game winning streak.

The Nationals have gone 4-4 and just lost a third straight game to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday in Washington to slip four games off the lead in their division.

The Nationals are the home team this time for a three-game series that opens Monday night with a matchup of left-handers -- Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.36 ERA) going for Washington with Robbie Erlin (1-2, 3.46) making a spot start for San Diego.

On paper, the pairing clearly favors the hosts.

Erlin, 27, has met the Nationals twice in his career. Both games were at Nationals Park. Erlin is 0-2 in the matchups with a 16.39 ERA.

In Erlin's two previous outings in the nation's capital, Erlin has given up 17 runs, 19 hits and six walks with six strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. The Nationals have hit .413 against Erlin, who has a 2.68 WHIP against Washington.

This will be only the second start of the season for Erlin, who returned this year after having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery midway through 2016.

Thirteen of Erlin's 14 appearances this season have been out of the bullpen. His one previous start was April 16 against the Dodgers. He gave up six runs (five earned), seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts in three innings.

Erlin is filling the vacancy created when rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi went on the disabled list with a slightly strained glute. The Padres are hoping Lucchesi will miss only one start, although it looks like it could now be two or three.

Gonzalez is no stranger to the Padres. He started the May 9 game that the Nationals lost 2-1. Gonzalez allowed one run, five hits and three walks in six innings. Afterward, he said he struggled with his command.

Gonzalez was not involved in that decision. During his career, he has made seven starts against the Padres and has a 3-2 record with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.357 WHIP and a .253 opponents' batting average. Against the Padres, Gonzalez has given up 19 runs (15 earned), 41 hits and 16 walks with 41 strikeouts in 42 innings.

When the Nationals were in San Diego, first baseman-left fielder Matt Adams went 3-for-8 with a double, two homers, six RBIs and three runs scored -- although he got the third game off.

Since leaving San Diego, Adams has hit only .143. Washington's Bryce Harper is hitting .125 in the last eight games with a homer and three RBIs.

Another key player in the first Padres-Nationals series was Howie Kendrick, who was 5-for-12 with a double and two runs scored. But Kendrick has been lost with a ruptured Achilles tendon and on Saturday the Nationals promoted a 19-year-old prospect from Double-A.


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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers


Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.


- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.