|Photo by USA Today|
Gio Gonzalez, SP – 0-0/0.00 ERA/7 IP/2 H/6 SO
At just 86 pitches through seven innings against the Cubs, it seemed Gio Gonzalez was well on his way to completing his best start since April 25 against Cincinnati. But with a 1-0 lead, Davey Johnson elected to pinch-hit for Gio, only to see the Cubs come back to win 2-1 on Sunday. Regardless of whether Johnson made the right call, Gonzalez has been excellent in his last two starts, giving up seven hits and two runs while striking out 11 in his last 13 innings.
Ian Desmond, SS – 9-22/2 HR/2 2B/4 R/1.253 OPS
As Desmond’s assault on the baseball continues, so does his ascension as one of the best offensive shortstops in the major leagues. He’s currently second among shortstops in doubles (13), third in homers (6), third in slugging (.527) and 3rd in OPS (.843). On the negative side, he currently leads all shortstops with seven errors.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP – 1-0/2.35 ERA/7.2 IP/9 H/5 SO
Zimmermann picked up his league-leading seventh win of the year with a strong effort Monday night against the Dodgers. For the sixth time in eight starts Zimmermann pitched at least seven innings, and he's currently second in the National League in innings pitched with 58 2/3. He was also his usual efficient self, as he threw only 101 pitches against the Dodgers, bringing his average to an impressive 97.3 pitches per start on the year. At this point, it looks like the race to start for the National League All-Star team is between Zimmermann, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Harvey.
Adam LaRoche, 1B – 8-24/2 R/3 RBI/BB
The Nationals are surely pleased with LaRoche’s recent uptick in production as the first baseman is hitting an impressive .366 through 12 games this month. He has raised his batting average to .213 after batting just .136 in April. His stats on the season are still very poor, but he is making progress and well on his way to recovering from the slow start.
Nationals bench players
Over the past week, Tyler Moore, Stephen Lombardozzi, Chad Tracy, and Roger Bernadina hit a combined 5-for-42 (.119 average) and are batting .116 (32-for-198) collectively on the year. They just aren’t getting it done like they did last year when Nationals’ pinch-hitters hit .288 with four home runs and 26 RBI. It is an underrated weakness that was a strength for much of last season.
Zach Duke, RP – 0-0/54.00 ERA/0.2 IP/4 ER/4 H
As has been mentioned previously in this space, Duke’s role is often a thankless one, coming in with the Nationals behind just hoping he can limit the damage. Unfortunately for Duke, he was unable to stop the bleeding on Saturday, giving up four runs in just 2/3 of an inning of work in relief of Stephen Strasburg. On the year, the 30-year-old lefty has an 8.40 ERA in just 15 innings.
Kurt Suzuki, C – 3-12/1 2B/2 RBI/.583 OPS
It’s not that Suzuki struggled mightily at the plate last week, but rather that a defensive miscue cost the Nationals dearly on Sunday. With the game tied at 1-1 in the ninth inning, Suzuki’s throw to nail Alfonso Soriano at third collided with batter Wellington Castillo’s bat and ended up well off third base and in foul ground, allowing Soriano to score. Then in the bottom of the ninth, after being perhaps unjustly called out on strikes, Suzuki exploded resulting in the first ejection of his career. Not a great week altogether.