|Photo by USA Today|
By Steve Roney
The Nationals' past week, at a glance:
Team slash: .269/.343/.377
Team ERA: 4.28
Runs per game: 3.6
Opponent runs per game: 4.9
Opponent slash: .227/.292/.438
Dan Haren, SP/RP: 1-0/1 SV/1.38 ERA/0.85 WHIP/13 IP/11 K
Nobody on the Nationals, or in the majors in general, is as hot as is Haren right now. Whether it's a result of mechanics, being truly healthy (my colleague Mark Zuckerman noted that his ERA since returning from the DL is 2.16), or just getting his head screwed on right, he has been truly dominant all month. On top of his microscopic August ERA (1.33), he also pitched in during the 15-inning marathon against Atlanta, recording his first career save.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B: 8-27/1 HR/3 RBI/.387 OBP/.943 OPS
We all figured he would, but Zimmerman has begun to hit his way out of his recent slump. Barring a scorching finish, his season numbers won't be all that impressive, but he has raised his average back to a respectable .270, muscling up on the ball, and getting on base like a machine -- like he always has. Imagine if he'd hit this way all year.
Jayson Werth, OF: 10-27/2 XBH/4 RBI/.496 OBP/.913 OPS
What is there left to say about Werth, except "please, please play this way next season"? Hot doesn't fully describe him -- he's hit .400 for nearly two full months now, and his OPS since June 4 is 1.018. Again, while it's important to appreciate how incredibly he's hitting, it's hard not to see the manifest proof of his talent and think of what might be had he -- and Zimmerman, and Harper, and LaRoche, and Desmond, et al -- all gotten hot earlier, or for at least an extended stretch.
Rafael Soriano, CL: 0-1/2 SV/2 BL SV/15.75 ERA/2.25 WHIP/4 IP/4 K
Whatever is afflicting the Beltway's closers, one thing's for sure -- games are much more exciting when you have no idea what to expect from your supposed stopper. Though Baltimore's Jim Johnson leads the majors in blown saves, Soriano made up some ground in that race to the bottom by blowing two in the past week. The emphatic untucker gave up at least one run in all four appearances this week, and yielded a homer in each of the past three. Opposing batters have hit like Hall of Famers against him, to the tune of a .368 average and an OPS of 1.271.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 1-1/6.75 ERA/1.42 WHIP/12 IP/7 K
Zimmermann began his week with a great start, holding the Giants to one run over seven innings, but ended it in disastrous fashion. He was tattooed by the Cubs, who have all but been declawed for much of the season, for perhaps the worst start of his career: five innings, three homers, eight earned runs. He's been averaging one truly horrible start per month since May -- hopefully this was him getting it out of his system for August.
Adam LaRoche, 1B: 4-21/1 HR/3 RBI/.320 OBP/.653 OPS
LaRoche's up-and-down season continues, though even when he's down he manages to flash some power, drive in some runs, and get on base. Anyone still pining for Michael Morse really shouldn't be, but it is troubling to note that LaRoche has hit just .180 since July 8.