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Nats Stock Watch: Rendon rediscovering his power stroke

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Nats Stock Watch: Rendon rediscovering his power stroke

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

Record: 4-2

Team slash: .253/.367/.474

Team ERA: 3.23

Runs per game:  5.3


STOCK UP  

Anthony Rendon, 2B: .333 AVG/ 2 HR/ 5 RBI 

Ah, so this is the guy who finished fifth in NL MVP voting last year. For the first time all season, Rendon is finally showing what makes him one of the best infield bats in the NL. When he's on, it puts pitchers in serious conflict: Should they challenge Rendon, or deal with Bryce Harper, who hits right behind him? It's the scenario the Nats were hoping for much earlier in the season, but is only just coming to fruition right now.

Bryce Harper, RF: .375 AVG/ 1.153 OPS 

Speaking of Harper, has he ever gone into a slump this season? It doesn't really feel like it, despite the rest of the lineup's struggles. At 22, he's been the steadying force for an offense that has had its issues for most of 2015. His NL MVP case might be hurt a bit by the team's decline, with voters typically gravitating towards players on playoff clubs. But Harper's numbers might be too good to deny, especially considering how they outpace other Nats hitters by a wide margin.

Wilson Ramos, C: .353 AVG/ 2 HR/ 1.215 OPS  

The good news for Ramos this season? He's managed to stay healthy. The bad news? He's yet to establish himself as one of the best power-hitting catchers in the game as some thought he could be. Not that he hasn't been trying. He's been efforting to rediscover his power stroke from earlier in his career (particularly 2011 and 2013), trying to figure out what was working well in those years compared to what he's been doing lately. And if this past week is any indication, perhaps it's starting to pay off. He's hit home runs in back-to-back games -- the first time he's done that all season.

 

STOCK DOWN 

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 5.0 IP/ 0-1/ 7.20 ERA 

It seemed like Gio had a solid run for a while where he was quietly establishing himself one of the more consistent starters in the rotation. But after a recent rough patch -- he's 0-2 in his last two starts and has allowed 10 earned runs combined -- he finds himself listed here. When Gonzalez is off, he exhibits the same old problems; he doesn't throw his curve ball for strikes, he struggles to command the zone and he's not particularly pitch efficient. As Nats fans know, this is not the time for anyone on the staff to have a hiccup. The margin for error for each game is razor thin, so the rotation has no choice but to be at its best the last few weeks of the season if the club hopes to play in October.

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Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

The biggest story in Nationals prospects this week is the three Washington lost to the Royals in return for closer Kelvin Herrera. Here’s a look at what the Nationals gave up to add more depth to the bullpen.

Kelvin Gutierrez, AA 3B

The infielder, formerly on the Nationals’ 40-man roster, has posted a .285/.344/.388 line through his six-season minor league tenure. One of his greatest strengths is his speed, with 55 career stolen bases and 14 extra-base hits this season. His other notable tool is his powerful arm strength, which may help explain his transition from shortstop to the hot corner.

Blake Perkins, High A OF

The Nationals chose outfielder Blake Perkins in the second round of the 2015 draft. He has quite a bit of room to improve at the plate, batting .234/.344/.290 this season in Hagerstown. However, what he lacks offensively, he makes up for in the outfield. According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, Perkins has “plus speed, mature instincts, excellent routes and an above-average arm.”

Yohanse Morel, RHP

The biggest wild card of the group, Morel is a 17-year-old outfielder-turned-pitcher from the Dominican Republic. His fastball reaches 95 mph and he certainly has huge potential for growth. He has not yet pitched in the U.S. since making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in early June.

So, what did the Nationals gain?

Right-handed closer Kelvin Herrera is a two-time All-Star who is currently in the midst of a stellar season. In his Nats debut, he needed just six pitches to shut down the Orioles in the eight. The team is reportedly (and understandably) thrilled to have Herrera joining the roster. Adam Eaton said, "I'm so happy he's here and he's on my team and I don't have to face him anytime in the near future."

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .

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