The Nationals just completed an up-and-down April in which they went 13-14, the first losing month they’ve had since August 2011. They took three of four from the Cincinnati Reds last week, but have now lost two in a row to the Atlanta Braves. Here’s a look at five players who were hot, and five players who were not over the past seven days.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP – 1-0/0.00 ERA/9 IP/4 SO/0.22 WHIP
Simply put, Zimmermann is one the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball right now. His complete game shutout against Cincinnati was a lesson in beauty and efficiency, as Zimmermann gave up just one hit while throwing only 91 pitches. He currently ranks tied for second in wins (4), fifth in WHIP (0.86), ninth in batting average against (.186), and leads all of baseball with two complete games.
Ian Desmond, SS – 10-26/2 2B/4 R/.407 OBP/.946 OPS
Desmond’s 10-for-26 (.385) run over the past seven days concluded a successful April for the 27-year-old. It’s only been a month, but right now Desmond’s offensive numbers put him in elite company among all major league shortstops. Currently, he ranks fourth in average (.301), fourth in slugging percentage (.524), second in doubles (11), and tied for third in hits (34).
Bryce Harper, OF – 6-22/2 HR/2 2B/4 RBI/1.135 OPS
After Saturday’s game against the Reds, the one-year anniversary of his call-up, Harper's stats were .284 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI after 162 major league games. Pretty good for a 20-year-old.
Craig Stammen, RP – 0-0/2 IP/0 ER/0 H/2 SO
After a shaky start, Stammen looks once again like a reliable option for Davey Johnson out of the bullpen. Since taking the loss April 12 against Atlanta, Stammen has struck out nine while walking just one in 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
Rafael Soriano, RP – 0-0/1 SV/2 SO/0.50 WHIP
Since an eventful outing April 9 against the White Sox, Soriano has thrown six scoreless innings and earned four saves. Soriano closed out Saturday’s 6-3 win against the Reds, throwing a perfect inning and striking out Cesar Izturis and the dangerous Todd Frazier to earn his seventh save of the year.
Adam LaRoche, 1B – 1-23/0 HR/7 SO/.043 SLG
By now Nationals fans know the book on LaRoche. He struggles mightily out of the gate (last year being a rare exception), as his .215 career average in April attests. But as the weather heats up, so does LaRoche. For his career, LaRoche hits at a .291/.344/.520 clip in July, .302/.369/.542 in August, and .293/.348/.540 in September and October. We'll see if that trend continues.
Steve Lombardozzi, IF – 0-13/0 HR/3 SO/.000 OBP
When Danny Espinosa missed four games due to injury, Lombardozzi filled in admirably in his place, going 7-for-21 (.333) over five games. As a result, some called for extended playing time over the slumping Danny Espinosa. But Lombardozzi’s 0-for-13 slide has quieted those calls, as the 24-year-old hasn’t recorded a hit since April 23 against St. Louis.
Danny Espinosa, 2B – 5-27/1 HR/2 2B/9 SO/.214 OBP
Espinosa celebrated his 26th birthday in style, when he broke out of a 2-for-18 slump by going 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored, and 3 RBI against the Reds on April 25. But since then, he’s gone 3-for-19 with eight strikeouts and looking more and more like the weak link in this lineup.
Zach Duke, RP – 0-0/4.2 IP/3 ER/5.79 ERA
In Duke’s eight appearances this year, seven have been in games the Nationals lost. In last night’s 8-1 loss to the Braves Duke pitched three innings of relief, giving up three runs, including a home run to opposing pitcher Tim Hudson. The Nationals may be losing when Duke’s pitching, but he’s allowing other members of the Nationals’ bullpen to rest, and right now that’s needed.
Kurt Suzuki, C – 4-18/1 2B/2 RBI/.541 OPS
It will be interesting to see how Davey Johnson manages his catchers now that Wilson Ramos is back in action. After a hot start at the plate Suzuki has cooled considerably, going 5-for-33 (.151) over his last ten games. It also doesn’t help Suzuki’s case that Nationals’ pitchers perform markedly better with Ramos behind the plate.