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Nats Stock Watch: During tough week, Strasburg stands out

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Nats Stock Watch: During tough week, Strasburg stands out

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: .239/.332/.410

Team ERA: 5.76

Runs per game:  5.16


STOCK UP 

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. 

STOCK DOWN 

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.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- 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.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- 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.