Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .269/.336/.406
Team ERA: 2.29
Runs per game: 4.6
Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 1-0/ 15.2 IP/ 0.00 ERA
For this edition of Stock Watch, we probably should have just put 'the starting rotation' in this section, but we'll still single people out. Zimmermann was battling a brief bout of inconsistency -- he allowed 13 earned runs in his three starts prior to last week -- before he posted back-to-back stellar outings. With 15 1/3 shutout innings over two starts, he's lowered his season ERA to 3.16.
Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-0/ 7.0 IP/ 9 K
His first outing back from the disabled list was encouraging, but not dominant. His second was just about everything the Nats hoped for from a healthy Strasburg. His fastball had life, touching 97 mph at times, which set up his off speed pitches in two-strike counts. When he's able to pair his heater with that devastating breaking pitch, he looks like the guy who took the game by storm when he was first called up in 2010. It's been just two starts since his return, but if he's going to pitch like this in the second half of the season -- look out.
Casey Janssen, RP: 2 GP/ 0.00 ERA
Sure, it's easy to notice how dominant the starting staff has been over the past week or so. But don't forget about the bullpen, which has quietly stabilized of late. There are the occasional hiccups, of course, but for the most part things have been relatively smooth. Take Janssen, who since his disastrous outing in Cincinnati on May 30 (four runs allowed in just one inning) hasn't allowed a run to cross the plate since. In fact, that appearance in Cincy accounts for the only runs Janssen's yielded all season long. He and recent addition David Carpenter have served as an more than adequate bridge to Drew Storen in the ninth inning.
Michael Taylor, LF: .304 AVG/ .360 OBP/ .478 SLG
It's pretty evident that Taylor is getting more and more comfortable as he gets extended playing time in left field. The 24-year-old rookie had a pretty up-and-down start to his season, but he's now seen his average rise from .214 on May 30 to .250 as July begins. He's more confident at the plate, taking fewer poor swings and doing a better job of working the count in his favor. And when he gets his pitch, he usually doesn't miss. The gaudy power numbers he had in the minors haven't showed up yet in the big leagues, but there's no reason to doubt those will come if he continues to develop.
Clint Robinson, 1B: .286 AVG/ .429 SLG/ 5 RBI
Raise your hand if you had Robinson batting cleanup for an extended period of time before the season started. Don't worry, we'll wait. The 30-year-old utility man, who prior to 2015 was a career minor leaguer, has proven to be a key presence off the bench while filling in admirably for the injured Ryan Zimmerman. He along with Taylor and others show just how deep the Nats' roster is; so much so that the club can get by for a few games without many of the regulars playing, as it did over the weekend in Philadelphia. That's a credit to them as players, but it's also a nod to the organization for building a complete roster.
No one this week. That'll happen when a team wins nine of their last 10 games.