Nationals: Who's hot, who's not

Nationals: Who's hot, who's not
September 26, 2013, 3:15 pm
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The Nationals' past week, at a glance:

Record: 3-5
Team slash: .213/.278/.277
Team ERA: 3.26
Runs per game: 3.0
Opponent runs per game: 3.1
Opponent slash: .241/.282/.377

HOT

Jayson Werth, OF: 7-28/1 HR/4 R/5 RBI/.364 OBP/.792 OPS
 
Just as the term "cold" was applied in a relative sense over the past few weeks, the "hot" designation is now being used in a fairly loose sense, at least when it comes to the Nationals lineup. Their season-ending skid has seen the bats go almost completely silent, with the team collectively hovering just above the Mendoza line. It's little surprise that Werth has remained the most dangerous hitter during this stretch -- unfortunately, he was not able to carry the load all by himself.

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 1-1/2.77 ERA/1.15 WHIP/13 IP/9 K

Gio Gonzalez got win No. 11 on his 28th birthday, besting the Marlins, but came out on the wrong end of a pitcher's duel in a 2-0 loss to Michael Wacha and the Cards. The lefty will likely end up with 10 fewer victories this season than he had last, but his year was still a strong one, with comparable innings and strikeout totals and only a modest bump in ERA. 

Jordan Zimmermann, SP: 1-1/2.25 ERA/0.56 WHIP/16 IP/11 K

Jordan got thisclose to reaching the 20-win plateau, instead finishing the year at 19-9, actually far surpassing the 12 wins he had last year during Washington's 98-win campaign. Oh, the quirks of statistics. Pitcher Zim was fantastic in 2013, tossing a career-high 213.1 innings and recording 161 strikeouts -- though again with a modestly higher ERA. With Zimmermann, Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are set at the top of the rotation for years to come.

NOT

Adam LaRoche, 1B: 4-21/0 XBH/1 R/0 RBI/.370 OBP/.561 OPS

One marked departure from last season is the almost complete disappearance of Adam LaRoche. Healthy all year, last season's team home run and RBI leader didn't produce anywhere near that level in 2013. While most of the Nats' bats endured a long quiet stretch before catching fire at some point, LaRoche never sustained a hot streak, instead moving along at his .237 clip all year. Had LaRoche awoken for a stretch the way that Werth, Denard Span, or Ryan Zimmerman have, the Nats might still be playing meaningful baseball.

Wilson Ramos, C: 4-25/0 XBH/0 R/1 RBI/.192 OBP/.352 OPS

Did fatigue finally catch up to Ramos? One of the hottest hitters on what was for a time the game's hottest-hitting team, Ramos has all but stopped hitting in the last week-plus, with little contact and zero pop. One of Mike Rizzo's chief duties this offseason will be settling on Ramos' backup -- now that the backstop has proven to be an incredibly effective big league catcher, Rizzo and the Nats need to protect him with a reliable caddy, whether that's Jhonatan Solano or an experienced veteran currently playing elsewhere.

Dan Haren, SP: 0-1/4.50 ERA/1.50 WHIP/6 IP/5 K

Bringing in Dan Haren was a great idea at the time, but in practice, the move didn't turn out the way anyone -- probably least of all Dan -- hoped it would. Though Haren was worlds better after spending some time on the disabled list, putting together several weeks of incredibly effective starts, he also faded at the end of the season, and dropped a key Sunday start against a weak Marlins lineup to hasten the demise of Washington's slim playoff hopes. The remainder of Haren's impressive career likely will be spent in the middle of the rotation on a second division team, preferably in a more spacious ballpark -- San Diego, perhaps?