Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nats who's hot/who's not - 8/14

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

The Nationals' past week, at a glance:

Record: 4-1
Team slash: .305/.388/.470
Team ERA: 2.80
Runs per game: 6.0
Opponent runs per game: 3.0
Opponent slash: .244/.294/.339


HOT

Tanner Roark, RP: 2-0/0.00 ERA/0.67 WHIP/6 IP/1 K 

Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Ro-ark. The rookie reliever made his first three career appearances this week, picking up the win in the most recent two. He doesn't have overpowering stuff -- he's thrown two-thirds of his 70 pitches for strikes, with only two swings and misses -- but he's gotten the job done in fairly high-leverage situations. Working two innings in each of his appearances, he's been able to serve as a very effective bridge to Rafael Soriano, who has saved both his victories. Without more swinging strikes, his .190 BABIP will rise -- along with his ERA -- but Roark has had a dream start to his career.

Jayson Werth, OF: 10-19/2 HR/6 RBI/.591 OBP/1.486 OPS

Put simply, this is what we've been waiting for from Jayson Werth. Not the video game numbers of the past week, or even the past month -- but his incredibly hot tear has brought his season numbers (.327/.399/.529, 17 HR) in line with his pay grade for the first time since he donned a Nats jersey. In fact, the 34-year-old is exceeding even those expectations: the batting average, if it holds up, is the highest of his career, though his .444 BABIP since the All-Star break portends a looming regression. The Nats are likely playing for bragging rights and to set the table for next season; if Werth can continue to swing a hot bat, both he and the team can end the year on a high note, which will bode well going forward.

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-0/0.00 ERA/0.55 WHIP/9 IP/10 K

Thanks in part to the pitch counts and innings limits that dominated his early years, Stephen Strasburg notched his first shutout -- and first complete game -- this week, blanking the Phillies with a four-hit, 10-strikeout masterpiece. It's not showing up in the win-loss column (neither his, nor the team's), but this has been the finest season of the young hurler's career. His strikeout rate is down from the other-worldly 12.2 and 11.1/9 numbers from 2010 and 2012, respectively, but he's also giving up fewer hits, baserunners, and runs than he ever has. Strikeouts are nice, but keeping opponents off the basepaths and away from home plate is the name of the game. 

NOT

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B: 3-19/1 HR/.304 OBP/.673 OPS

On the other side of the coin, Ryan Zimmerman is unfortunately slogging through one of the worst seasons of his otherwise stellar career. On pace for his lowest batting average since he hit .266 as a 22-year-old, the third baseman has come up particularly short of late, hitting .158 and driving in only one run (himself, on a solo homer) on the month. The silver lining is that his misadventures in the infield have tamped down somewhat -- he recorded his last error on August 2.

Ryan Mattheus, RP: 0-1/7.71 ERA/1.71 WHIP/2.1 IP/1 K

Ryan Mattheus may be the cautionary tale that Tanner Roark and observers may want to take heed to. Sporting an identical swinging strike rate (3%) to Roark over the past week, Mattheus has been burned, giving up two runs in the loss to Atlanta and allowing two baserunners while recording just one out in last night's win over the Giants. Aside from failing to miss bats and giving up runs of his own, Mattheus has allowed 50% of inherited runners to score -- not what you're looking for when summoning a reliever in the seventh and eighth innings.

Bryce Harper, OF: 2-16/1 XBH/.300 OBP/.488 OPS


Much like Zimmerman, Harper has fallen dead silent in the last two weeks, hitting just .167 since the calendar flipped to August. It's a testament to the recent prowess of the Nats' other bats that the team sports such a prolific batting line while the top two hitters languish in notable slumps. Both Zimmerman and Harper have continued to get on base well above what their batting average would suggest, adding value even when failing to make significant contact at the plate, but the team needs more from these guys. Harper was able to come off the bench last night despite sitting out most of the game with the flu, so the heart and desire is obviously there -- not that anyone would ever question Harper in that way -- the hits just need to fall.  

12 comments:

Theophilus T. S. said...

Agree, after looking at his minor league nos., that Roark is likely to regress -- significantly -- but right now anything is better than Mattheus, who's become something of a kerosene guy. If two-thirds of Roark's pitches are strikes, that's about the right ratio; when it gets much higher than that it sometimes means the hitters are teeing off, or are getting ready to tee off. His K rate in the minors was better than average so it may come up; hope he -- and everybody else -- can figure out how to not give up BB.

Mattheus should be shut down for the season before he does any more harm, allowed to come back in ST to compete for a spot in the BP or a trade.

James Joyce said...

Glad to see the club playing better, 6 of last 10 is the right direction. But, the club simply is just not as good as anyone thought. It is more than just some bad bounces and unfavorable injury luck. The rest of the Division will be improved in 2014 - the Mets will be much better, the Fish will make a big splash (could not resist), that Cuban defector 1B maybe?, the Phils still have Lee and Hamels and they unload all kinds of payroll and inking Utley shows that they are not looking to break down their club, they'll reload, the Braves have a ton of money to spend to improve their very solid core too. The Nats need to make big upgrades if they want to be a legit next year, much less be an every year contender.

Doc said...

Both Stammen and Mattheus would seem to have left last year's magic arms in the locker room.

Guess it's time for some new blood.

bowdenball said...

Stammen is the same guy he was last year. He just got a little lucky last year with a .270 BABIP and has been pretty unlucky this year with a .341 BABIP. His K/BB ratio is about the same, his HR/FB ratio is about the same, and his ground ball rate is actually up while his line drive rate is down.

He's also under club control through 2016 and has already signed a deal for 2014 to avoid arbitration.

He's not going anywhere, nor should he.

bowdenball said...

James Joyce-

I disagree that the division will be better next year, at least in terms of the playoff race. The Mets and the Marlins will be better for sure, but not good enough to compete fir first place. The Phillies will be worse for sure, even a Phillies fan would tell you that. And I seriously doubt the Braves will be this good next year. Aside the normal regression for teams on 100 win pace (something Nats fans should have learned from 2012 and 2013) they will also lose their highest OPS hitter Brian McCann, and they have several guys who had or are having career years who can be expected to regress, including Chris Johnson, Jordan Schaefer, Evan Gattis, Mike Minor, and pretty much every member of the bullpen except Kimbrel.

JD said...


Bowdenball,

That's the thing about projections: fans approach is normally:

1) For players who are having career years - they expect them to repeat these.

2) For players who are having bad years - they expect them to bounce back.

Unfortunately regression works in both directions.

Tcostant said...

Werth is so hot that there was article in the NY Post going over the worse contract considering the amount that was left on each deal and Werth's contract was not even mentioned. That is progress:

http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/yankees/think_rod_deal_is_bad_here_are_five_Nkeay2N5EdkVeYTpbGh6EJ

Doc said...

Bowdenball, Stammen, by his own admission, and from others watching him, has had problems with his slider.

Hope he gets the magic back!

bowdenball said...

I'm even more confused about the statement that the Braves "have a ton of money to spend." The Braves' ownership is notoriously tight with its money, they're locked into a long-term TV deal that's only slightly better than ours, and they barely cracked 20,000 in attendance at Turner Field the last two nights for a team with the best record in baseball.

NatsLady said...

Does Mattheus have options? Send him down and bring Storen back? Or just wait until September to bring up Storen?

Candide said...

bowdenball said...they barely cracked 20,000 in attendance at Turner Field the last two nights for a team with the best record in baseball.

Yeah, well, when your team leads the division by infinity-and-a-half games and they're playing the woebegone Phillies...

(Yeah, I know... Braves fans don't turn out much, considering how good the team has been for over 20 years. But they're still a tiny bit better than average: http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance)

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Mattheus was rushed back. He is rehabbing in Washington. Seen that before.

RZim, I knew it was bad but not that bad. That walkoff is good for extra credit and his defense is much improved to "average" from "poor".

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