Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .239/.332/.410
Team ERA: 5.76
Runs per game: 5.16
Stephen Strasburg, SP: 2 GS/ 1-1/ 1.38 ERA
The Nats rotation's had a pretty tough time of late, struggling so often that the title of "most reliable starter" has changed seemingly every other week. But right now that throne belongs to Strasburg, who's been pretty steady both times he's come off the disabled list this season. In his last six starts he's 4-1 with a 1.26 ERA, 43 strikeouts and just six walks. So uh, perhaps it was too soon to bury him, yeah? It pretty much goes without saying that if the Nats are to turn this around and catch the Mets in the standings, they'll need Strasburg to continue to look like vintage Strasburg the rest of the way.
Ian Desmond, SS: .348 AVG/ .988 OPS/ 5 RBI
Make it two weeks in a row that Desmond has made it here, so perhaps we're finally one step closer to saying he's out of his season-long rut (for real this time). He's having his best offensive month of the year by a landslide, hitting .313 in August with four home runs, 13 RBI and a .934 OPS. The key is that he's seeing the ball much better; he's only struck out 14 times this month compared to the 33 times he whiffed in both May and June. Like many Nats hitters this year, he's not going to finish the season with gaudy numbers. But does that even matter anymore? All that matters is putting together five good weeks of baseball, and Desmond is showing signs that he could do just that.
Max Scherzer, SP: 0-1/ 3.0 IP/ 18.00 ERA
Remember when Scherzer was dominant in June and seemed like a shoe-in for the NL Cy Young? Yeah, that seems like eons ago now. Much like the team as a whole, his season has unraveled quickly. His August ERA has ballooned to 7.80, which seems unfathomable given how impressive he was during the first half of the season. For a big stretch of 2015, he was the guy the club could count on to be the stopper. Now what?
Anthony Rendon, 2B: .071 AVG/.143 OPS/ 6 K
It's been nearly an entire season, and fans are still waiting for Rendon to resemble the guy that finished fifth in NL MVP voting in 2014. Instead, for whatever reason, he's looked like a shell of himself. Sure, he's had to fight through two different DL stints this year, but he's had enough at-bats that we're well past the point of "shaking off the rust". It seems Matt Williams has reached the same conclusion, giving Rendon a few days off in Colorado to insert Danny Espinosa in the lineup to try to generate a spark.
Wilson Ramos, C: .450 OPS/ 0 XBH
The irony of Ramos' struggles this season is that they have nothing to do with health, which has usually been the case with him. Now, it's just about being plain ineffective. Prior to 2015, fans were clamoring to see what his numbers would look like over a full season. But four-and-a-half months into the season? Not so much. He's homerless in August and has a .454 OPS (!) since July. Ouch.