Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.
Team slash: .182/.270/.304
Team ERA: 2.64
Runs per game: 3
Bryce Harper, RF: .381 AVG/ 8 BB/ 1.218 OPS
It's been quite an eventful week for the Nationals' superstar outfielder. He led the team in average and OPS (like he does most weeks), but as is usually the case with him, he did it in style. The 22-year-old broke out his patriotic bat on Independence Day and, naturally, hit a two-run home run in his very first at-bat that sent the sold out Nats Park crowd into a frenzy. A day later, it was announced that he would start in the All-Star Game as he (unsurprisingly) led the NL in fan voting. Harper's ascent to becoming one of the top faces in the sport has been fascinating to follow over the years, and now that he's just begun to realize his potential, you wonder if -- assuming good health -- we're beginning to see the start of an unforgettable career.
Drew Storen, RP: 2 GP/ 0.00 ERA
Speaking of the All-Star Game, Storen has a legitimate gripe about not being selected to go to Cincinnati next week. He's been about as good as any closer in the NL, so you really have to comb through the statistics to try and find discrepancies between he and the relievers who got selected by Bruce Bochy. The only thing you could think of is his ERA, which currently sits at 1.97. And as Mark Zuckerman pointed out earlier this week, Storen allowed a three-run homer in a blowout win over the Rays several weeks ago, ballooning his ERA from 1.11 to 2.16 at the time. If that wound up being the difference between getting an All-Star nod and staying home, then Storen probably has a good reason to be a little upset.
Max Scherzer, SP: 0-2/ 4.85 ERA
This is not a typo. And no, we can't believe it either. But Scherzer has proved he is indeed human over his last two starts, suffering a tough luck walk-off loss in Atlanta and following that up with an uncharacteristically bad outing Tuesday in a loss to the Reds. Of course, one bad week doesn't take away from the type of season the 30-year-old ace is having thus far for the Nats. But the numbers are the numbers, and over the last seven days he's had the highest ERA of any of the starters.
Ian Desmond, SS: .095 AVG/ .190 SLG/ 8 K
The Nats have to hope that Desmond isn't reverting back to what he was during his prolonged slump. But at this point, it's hard to merely call it a "slump" and probably more appropriate to say that it's simply a down season thus far for the three-time Silver Slugger winner. Of the Nats with at least 110 at-bats, Desmond has the lowest average (.214), on-base percentage (.254), slugging percentage (.341) and leads the team in strikeouts with 97. That's about as alarming as it gets for a player who is hoping to cash in on a big contact next offseason.