|Photo by USA Today|
By Michael Huberman
The Nationals got a much needed win in San Francisco on Wednesday to cap off their longest road trip of the season. Here’s a look at five players who were hot, and five players who were not over the past week.
Stephen Strasburg, SP – 1-0/1.20 ERA/15 IP/11 SO/0.93 WHIP
Strasburg started his week off with a bang, beating his hometown Padres and going a career-high eight innings for the win. Then, after pitching seven strong innings of one-run ball against the Giants, Strasburg was in line for his third win before his bullpen blew the lead in the ninth. Either way, over his last 20 innings Strasburg has been dominant, giving up just two earned runs and striking out 18. He has a 2.00 ERA through 27.0 innings thus far this month.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – 7-24/2 HR/7 RBI/.414 OBP/.997 OPS
The rest of the team may be struggling to hit, but Zimmerman continues to produce at the plate. Zimmerman had himself a very good series against the Padres, going 5-for-14 with two home runs, six RBI, and two walks. After a slow start to the year Zimmerman has gotten into a groove offensively, and is now hitting .313/.421/.484 in May.
Adam LaRoche, 1B – 6-25/3 HR/7 RBI/3 BB/.961 OPS
Like Zimmerman, LaRoche was excellent against the Padres. In the Nationals’ wins on Thursday and Friday, LaRoche went 3-for-7 with three home runs, six RBI, and three runs scored. After a predictably slow start in April, LaRoche has been outstanding at the plate in May, putting up a .314/.395/.529 slash in 70 at-bats.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP – 0-1/1.13 ERA/8 IP/6 SO/0 BB
Even in defeat, Zimmermann manages to dominate. A tough-luck loser Saturday night in San Diego, Zimmermann has issued just three walks over his past 39 2/3 innings, and he’s averaging 6.5 strikeouts per game over his last four starts. He will look to carry over that success on Friday night in the Nats’ first matchup with the Phillies this season.
Chad Tracy, IF – 2-3/1 HR/1 RBI/1 R
Yes, it’s a very small sample size but Tracy’s game winning pinch-hit home run in the 10th inning Friday night in San Diego was huge for both hitter and team. Tracy’s homer was his first since May 14 of last season (also against San Diego) and helped the 32-year-old break out of a 1-for-10 slump. For the Nationals it was a crucial victory; closer Rafael Soriano had just blown the save and the team would go on to lose Saturday and Sunday.
Dan Haren, SP – 0-1/12.60 ERA/5 IP/7 ER/9 H/2 HR
After giving up nine earned runs in 27 innings over his previous four starts, Haren struggled mightily on Sunday against the Padres, giving up three runs in the first inning and four more in the fifth en route to his fifth loss of the year. With the loss against the Padres, Haren moved to 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA and eight home runs allowed in five road starts this year.
Danny Espinosa, 2B – 1-18/0 XBH/0 RBI/9 SO/.056 OBP/.111 OPS
Experts, analysts, and fans alike have provided their two cents on how to handle Espinosa, but at this point what can be done? Since homering on his 26th birthday April 25 against the Reds, Espinosa is 12-for-79 (.152) with just one home run and a staggering 30 strikeouts.
Denard Span, OF – 7-31/1 XBH/2 BB/6 SO/.273 OBP
Span has never been known for his power, but so far his lack of extra-base hits has to be somewhat alarming. Through 43 games, Span has just nine extra-base hits (seven doubles, two triples) and so far he’s slugging a career-low .329. On the positive side, Span continues to play an excellent centerfield, and he’s provided a nice upgrade there this season.
Ryan Mattheus, RP – 0-0/45.00 ERA/1 IP/5 ER/2 BB
On the field Mattheus struggled mightily Sunday in San Diego, giving up five runs in just one inning of work. But off the field, Mattheus’ frustration over his outing ended up hurting both him and his team. Mattheus’ broke his right hand after he punched his locker, and was subsequently placed on the disabled list. Yunesky Maya, one of the pitchers who took Mattheus’ spot in the bullpen, gave up the game-winning home run Wednesday night to Pablo Sandoval. Ouch.
Zach Duke, RP – 0-1/10.80 ERA/3.1 IP/4 ER/7 H
Before his start Monday night against the Giants, Chase tweeted out that over his career Duke was 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 1.080 WHIP in 25 innings at AT&T Park. Unfortunately for the Nationals, Duke was unable to channel past dominance in the Bay Area, and was chased after only 3 1/3 innings of work. In five of his ten appearances this year, Duke has given up two or more earned runs.