Entering Thursday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, the Nationals stand at 6-2, a game and a half behind the scorching hot Atlanta Braves. When a team wins six of eight, chances are a number of players put up some impressive stats. Each week, we’ll look at five players who were hot, and five players who were not so hot.
Bryce Harper, OF – 13-33/4 HR/6 RBI/1.182 OPS
Harper’s first eight games served as an excellent start to his campaign for NL MVP. After hitting home runs in his first two at-bats on Opening Day against the Miami Marlins, Harper hasn’t let up, hitting .394 with 4 homers and 6 RBIs. After eight games Harper is 7th in slugging percentage and tied for third in the league with his four home runs.
Wilson Ramos, C – 6-13/2 HR/3 RBI/1.486 OPS
It was an emotional week for Ramos, as he made his return to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the sight of his unfortunatee ACL injury last May. It was clear Ramos wasn’t fazed, as he tore through Reds pitching, going 4-9 with two home runs, including an insurance homer in the Nationals' 7-6 extra-innings victory on Saturday.
Ian Desmond, SS – 9-31/2 HR/5 R/4 2B
Entering the 11th inning of Saturday’s game against the Reds, Desmond was 2-16 and had just made two costly errors that allowed the Reds to tie the game. But Desmond led off the 11th inning with his first homer of the season, giving the Nationals the 6-5 lead. Since then, Desmond is 6-12 with a homer and three doubles and has gone three games without making an error.
Gio Gonzalez, SP – 1-0/0.82 ERA/11 IP/12 K
After homering and shutting down the Marlins in his first start, Gonzalez labored through his second effort Tuesday against the White Sox, throwing 99 pitches in just five innings. But he held the White Sox to only one run, and struck out seven. On the season, he’s 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 0.909 WHIP over eleven innings. All in all, pretty good.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP – 2-0/2.08 ERA/13 IP/5 K
Despite the distinction of giving up the Nationals first run of the season last week against the lowly Marlins, it’s been another productive and efficient start to the season for Zimmermann. After Wednesday’s start in which he held the White Sox to two runs over seven innings, Zimmermann is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA over thirteen innings and has yet to throw more than 90 pitches in either start.
Rafael Soriano, RP – 5 SV/7.20 ERA/5 IP/1 BS
It’s been an up and down first five appearances for Soriano as the new Nationals’ closer. The 33-year-old started off hot, saving two games against the Marlins in which he struck out three and gave up just one hit and one walk. But he blew a save in his next outing against the Reds (a game which the Nationals would eventually win) and made Tuesday’s appearance against the White Sox far more interesting than most would like, giving up a two-run homer to Alex Rios to cut the Nationals lead to 8-7. He looked much better last night giving up just one hit while earning his fourth save, but so far Soriano has been inconsistent.
Dan Haren. SP – 0-1/13.50 ERA/4 IP/5 K
When the Nationals signed Haren this offseason, the hope was that he would be able recapture his 2011 form, when he went 16-10 with 3.17 ERA and finished 7th in the American League Cy Young voting. So far, not so good. Haren was roughed up in his first start, giving up six runs and four home runs in just four innings of work against the Reds. Haren will look for his first win as a member of the Nationals Thursday night against the White Sox.
Adam LaRoche, 1B – 3-21/2 HR/3 RBI/.182 OBP
LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter, so his two-homer outing Tuesday night against the White Sox had to be a relief for the 33-year-old first baseman, especially after sitting out two games against the Reds with lower back pain. However, he’s still hitting just .143 through six games and his health looks to be a storyline to watch over the next few weeks.
Danny Espinosa, 2B – 6-30/0 HR/4 R/4 2B
Though he showed signs of life Wednesday night when he went 2-4 with two RBI, Espinosa’s slow start shouldn’t be too surprising. Last April he hit .205 with just one home run while striking out 27 times. Through eight games, he has only four extra base hits, all doubles, and he’s struck out five times. Though Espinosa has struggled at the plate, he’s been solid in the field as he’s yet to commit an error.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – 6-27/0 HR/5 RBI/.333 SLG
Like Espinosa, Zimmerman also struggled mightily out of the gate last year, largely due to his shoulder issues. So far this year, Zimmerman is hitting only .222 with no home runs and just two extra base hits. But his fielding has made up for his struggles at the plate, as he’s been spectacular as usual at the hot corner.