Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .300/.333/.405
Team ERA: 2.00
Runs per game: 4.16
Max Scherzer, SP: 9 IP/ 0 H/ 10 K/ 0.00 ERA
There was no way that Scherzer was going to be able to top his magnificent one-hit shutout of the Brewers last Sunday, right? Wrong, apparently, because all he did was go out in his very next start and make history last weekend at Nats Park. Dominating a pretty good Pirates lineup, the 30-year-old ace hurled the second no-hitter in club history in front of a sold out crowd. Were it not for Jose Tabata taking an inside slider to the elbow (something Nats fans are still steamed about), we'd probably be talking about a perfect game. But, alas, Scherzer had to "settle" for the no-no, a problem most starting pitchers would love to have. With his latest performance, you could easily make the fact that he's just turned in the best back-to-back starts in baseball history. And given the way he's going these days, this may not be his last no-hit bid we see from him this season.
Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-0/ 0.00 ERA/ 5 K
Whatever Strasburg did to address the early-season struggles during his time off, it certainly showed in his first start back from the disabled list. The right hander looked like a completely different pitcher Tuesday night against the Braves, and in doing so provided the Nats with hope that he might be able to turn his season around. He only went five innings, but he looked about as crisp as he has all season long. His fastball touched 98 mph at times, and his command was much improved. If this is the new Strasburg (who, by the way, looked a lot like the old Strasburg), then the Nats rotation is in pretty good shape moving forward.
Yunel Escobar, 3B: .364 AVG/ HR/ 5 RBI
Maybe a change of scenery did Escobar some good, because he's quietly having one of the best seasons of his career in his first year in D.C. He's hitting .325 and is on pace for 59 RBI, which would be the most he's had in a season since 2009. It probably doesn't hurt that he's hitting atop one of the better lineups in the NL, but Escobar has yet to go through a prolonged slump at any point of the season. Who'd have guessed that at the beginning of the year?
Doug Fister, SP: 0-1/ 8.44 ERA
With four straight good outings by Nats' starters, it's east to forget that the last time one of them struggled was late last week vs. the Rays. To be fair, that was Fister's first start back from the DL, but his results were eerily similar to earlier in the season; he allowed five runs on nine hits in just over five innings of work. It was the fourth time in eight starts that he allowed five or more runs. At some point, the Nats a need Fister to recapture his 2014 form. If he can, then this staff might finally be able to live up to all the preseason hype.