Nationals Stock Watch: Bullpen up, offense down for the Nats

Nationals Stock Watch: Bullpen up, offense down for the Nats
June 19, 2014, 12:00 pm
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(Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
We take a look at the Nationals' past week, at a glance:

Record: 2-4
Team slash: .214/.308/.277
Team ERA:  4.42
Runs per game: 2.66

STOCK UP 

Rafael Soriano, RP: 3 GP, 3.0 IP/2 SV/0.00 ERA 

He might frighten fans every time he comes in a game during a save situation, but Soriano still finds a way to get it done in the end. The Nats closer has had a sneaky-good season thus far, owning a 1.29 ERA while converting 15 of 17 save opportunities, including back-to-back efforts this week against the Houston Astros. Sure, the calm three-up, three-down inning has eluded him the majority of the time. But if Nats fans get to see him "untuck" after each outing, isn't that all that matters?

Drew Storen, RP: 2 GP/1.1 IP/ 0.00 ERA

While we're praising baseball's best bullpen -- they lead the majors with a 2.54 ERA -- let's take some time to acknowledge Storen, who continues to pitch well when he's called upon. He really doesn't have a set role; he's not a closer anymore, nor is he the setup man, and yet he continues to pitch well in whatever situation Matt Williams puts him in. After another solid week, Storen's season ERA dropped to 1.21 to go along with 21 strikeouts to just four walks. In fact, Storen's been so tough on hitters that he's allowed just one earned run per month. Pretty stingy. 

Anthony Rendon, 3B: .333 OBP/.480 SLG/1 HR/4 RBI

Granted, it wasn't a great week at the plate for the Nationals, who were held to two runs or less in four of six games. But even during a tough stretch, one of the bright spots for this offense continues to be Rendon, who bounced back from a scare earlier this month when he bruised hand during the west coast road trip. He's come back off of a hand injury and hasn't missed a beat, despite the lineup's recent struggles. He was the only player to go yard this week en route to driving in four of the 16 runs the Nats scored over the last six games. Through 66 games played this season, Rendon has already eclipsed his home run and RBI totals from all of 2013. It might sound strange, but with the benefit of hindsight, the injury to Ryan Zimmerman may have been a blessing in disguise. It gave Rendon an opportunity to be the everyday third baseman, while also allowing him to showcase his developing power at the plate. Now that Zimmerman is back, the Nats had to shuffle their lineup to allow Rendon to keep playing third. But if you're the manager, it's still a good problem to have, even when Bryce Harper returns. 

STOCK DOWN  

Ross Detwiler, RP: 2 GP/1.88 WHIP/6.75 ERA

Sure, the Nats have one of the best bullpens in the game (if not the best). However, the clear weak link in this group so far has been Ross Detwiler, whose bizarre season continues to confound. It's obvious he'd prefer to be in the starting rotation, but Williams has made it clear that won't happen anytime soon. So what do you do with him? Detwiler's the only reliever struggling out of the 'pen (his season ERA now sits at 4.97), but the team still has to find a way to get him in a groove. On nights where other members of the bullpen need a break, Williams needs to be able to trust Detwiler to come in and keep the score relatively close, but it just hasn't happened for whatever reason. 

Jayson Werth, RF: .095 AVG/.269 OBP/.143 SLG

We mentioned earlier that the offense had a tough time this week, and no one personified that more than Werth, who's had just two hits in his last 21 at-bats. But despite the fact that he had by far the worst slash line of any of the regulars in the lineup, there's still a silver lining. He (somehow) remains the leader on the team in hits, while also ranking second in walks. So even when it's bad, it's really not all that bad. Kind of like how the team can go 2-4 over the last six games and yet somehow increase their first place lead in the division. It's been that kind of week.