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Stock Watch: Do Nats have reliable eighth inning option?

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Stock Watch: Do Nats have reliable eighth inning option?

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

Record: 3-3

Team slash: .203/.277/.316

Team ERA: 3.83

Runs per game:  3.3

STOCK UP  

Yunel Escobar, 3B: .318 AVG / .591 SLG / .909 OPS 

The Nationals have to hope that Escobar's latest injury isn't that serious, being that he's been one of the few steadying forces in the lineup this season. Think about it: It's gotten to the point where Escobar, who was thought more for his glove than his bat in recent years, has been hitting in the cleanup spot behind Bryce Harper lately. Of course, part of that is the because the club has been hit with a rash of injuries to key players. But the other part of the equation is that he's having a career year, hitting .321 with a .366 on-base percentage in 84 games played. For reference, he hasn't finished a season with a .360 OBP or better since 2011, and hasn't finished with a .300 average since 2007.

Casey Janssen, RP: 3 GP / 1-0 / 0.00 ERA  

There's been much discussion among Nats fans about whether or not the team has a suitable bullpen option for the eighth inning. Most hoped it would be Blake Treinen (more on him later), but don't sleep on Janssen, who's quietly put together a solid case for manager Matt Williams. He hasn't allowed a run in last four outings while striking out six, walking none and allowing just one hit. His control has been on point most of the season; he's yielded only two walks in 21 appearances, both coming in his rough outing in Cincinnati in late May. Other than that, the 33-year-old righty has been every bit of the veteran presence general manager Mike Rizzo hoped he'd be.

STOCK DOWN 

Blake Treinen, RP:  1 GP / 0.1 IP / 4 ER 

Treinen turned in his worst outing as a reliever Sunday afternoon vs. the Dodgers, coming into a 1-0 game and allowing four runs in the top of the ninth to squash hopes of a comeback. Even worse, the hiccup earned him a trip back to Syracuse, with the club promoting farmhand Abel de los Santos to replace him. What's interesting about the move is that Treinen hadn't allowed a run in his previous five outings prior to Sunday, and yet he's back in the minors to work on his consistency. So the Nats really must not have liked what they saw in that one appearance.

Tanner Roark, RP:  2 GP / 2.1 IP / 5 ER 

Two games after Treinen couldn't hold the deficit to just one run, Roark winds up turning in an almost identical outing against the Mets. Coming into the ninth trying to keep the score 3-2, the 28-year-old right hander was charged with four runs in a third of an inning, giving New York more than enough breathing room for a win. Roark's season has definitely been one of the wackiest of anyone on the pitching staff. He's been asked to fill just about every role possible, from starter to long man to setup guy, even earning a save as a closer. But for as versatile as he's shown himself to be, he's not as consistent as he was a year ago, sporting an ERA of 4.97.

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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.