Craig Stammen because when else will we show his picture? Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals Bullpen Shines in Week 7

This week is a celebration for the Nationals bullpen. Rarely do the relievers get noticed except when things go horribly awry, but when delivering a week of dominance like the bullpen did this week, they deserve credit. Kudos to you, gentlemen. 19 1/3 innings without giving up a single run is impressive enough, but they allowed only 10 hits (seven for those not named Soriano) with four walks for a WHIP of 0.72. There are certainly reasons to gnash your teeth in D.C., but the relievers certainly aren’t one of them.

Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen were particularly impressive this week. Clippard made four appearances, striking out six in four innings while allowing only one hit. Stammen relieved Gio Gonzalez in Saturday’s start against the Mets, also going four innings and allowing just a single hit. In fact, the only reliever to allow more than one hit this week was Rafael Soriano who made every outing except Sunday’s an adventure.

Also, let’s point out the fact that Ian Desmond spent the last seven days hitting the baseball really hard and far. This past week, Desmond hit .347 with three home runs and eight RBIs. Desmond now leads the team in RBIs with 25, a position Anthony Rendon once held, but he’s been mired in a month long slump that has seen his batting average drop from .312 to .275 and his OBP go from .350 to .319. In fact, Rendon has driven in just one run since May 6th, a span of 10 games. On Sunday Rendon walked three times, however, which is perhaps a sign that maybe he’s seeing the ball better and will return to early season form.

This week also saw Doug Fister deliver on preseason expectations, pitching exceptionally well against Arizona. Fister’s first start against Oakland left something to be desired, but on Wednesday Fister threw seven innings of five-hit ball, striking out six while allowing one earned run. Tanner Roark pitched five serviceable innings against the Mets, earning his third win of the season. Soriano nearly let another Roark win slip away, but Jayson Werth robbed Daniel Murphy of a game tying home run in the ninth.

The starting pitching struggled, again, continuing a month long trend. For the week, the starters finished with an ERA of 5.15, tossing 33 2/3 innings while allowing 42 hits. Jordan Zimmerman allowed 18 of those hits, giving him a whopping 1.71 WHIP for the week. Gonzalez also struggled as he lasted only three innings with seven hits and five earned Saturday against the Mets.

Earlier in the season, manager Matt Williams had curiously pulled Gonzalez after only 83 pitches against the Angels. His reasoning at the time was shoulder soreness. On Sunday, the Nats placed Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list due to shoulder inflammation in his pitching shoulder. Another week, another Nats injury. The good news is that he didn’t hurt his elbow. Because there’s always that.

For the week, the Nats struggled to generate offense again. As a team they batted .232 and averaged 4.16 runs a game, which is right at league average. The truth is with all of the firepower currently on the disabled list, the Nats are going to struggle to score runs. On the season, they average 3.95 runs a game while the NL averages 3.99. The team’s batting average, OBP, and OPS+ are right at league average though. These are, by and large, positive signs. It means that the Nats are holding their own while players mend.

The Nats won both of their series this week against the Diamondbacks and Mets 2-1 and finished 4-2 overall. Heading into week eight they trail the Braves by ½ game in the East. The Nats will see Cincinnati and Pittsburgh next week, which means a Johnny Cueto sighting at Nationals Park. Both Stephen Strasburg and Fister are scheduled to pitch twice, so set your expectations accordingly.

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