May 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) is congratulated by Washington Nationals second baseman Kevin Frandsen (19) after hitting a solo home run against the New York Mets during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: Desmond Heating Up, Nats' Catchers Cutting Down Baserunners


Desmond starting to find groove at plate

(Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

PITTSBURGH — It appears Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is getting hot with the bat. In his last 10 games entering Thursday’s action, Desmond was hitting .293 with three home runs and eight RBIs. He added a solo shot — his ninth long ball of the season — in the Nats’ 3-1 loss to the Pirates on Thursday.

Despite a slow start to May, Desmond was never concerned about his batting average. He said he no longer panics like he would earlier in his career. In the past, he would change his hitting mechanics.

“Sometime that happens,” Desmond said referring to slumps. “I haven’t been doing anything differently. I’m just hitting the ball. As I’ve gotten older, I realize [slumps] are part of the game. You go through stuff like that. In the past, I’ve panicked. I would make drastic changes. Now, it’s just trusting in my [plan] and realize what I can bring. I’ve done it. Now it’s about me staying consistent.” Read full article here.

Nats’ catchers cutting down baserunners

(Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

PITTSBURGH — The Nationals’ catchers – Wilson RamosJose Lobaton and Sandy Leon — are having a much better year throwing out runners. Entering Thursday’s action against the Pirates, the trio had cut down 37 percent (10-of-27) of would-be basestealers.

It helps that Washington’s pitchers are doing a better job holding runners on base. Manager Matt Williams emphasized during Spring Training that the team had to improve in that area after the club’s catchers threw out just 14 percent of basestealers in 2013, which ranked 29th in the Major Leagues. Read full article here.

Nationals Stock Watch: Doug Fister on the rise

(Daniel Shiferaw, Comcast Sports Net)

STOCK UP 

Doug Fister, SP: 1-0/2.57 ERA/1.00 WHIP 

After a tough first start in Oakland, Fister has bounced back and showed the Nationals exactly why they traded for him in the offseason. The 30-year old sinker-baller has won his last two starts, allowing a combined three earned runs over 14 innings of work with 11 strikeouts to just one walk. Fister’s emergence in the rotation couldn’t have come a better time, as the Nats put Gio Gonzalez on the disabled list, so they’ll needed another starter to step up and help stabilize the rotation in Gio’s absence. There’s no doubt that pitching has kept the Nationals in the division race thus far, so they’ll take all the quality starts they can get.

Denard Span, CF: .429 AVG/.488 OBP/.643/4 RBI 

The Nationals’ offense needed a spark plug, and they may have gotten it this past week in Span. Washington’s leadoff man has been on fire recently, notching five hits in Tuesday’s blowout win over Cincinnati, and lead off his next game with a home run in his first at-bat. Span’s recent hot streak has to be a bit reassuring for him, as his struggles had led to some questioning his role as leadoff man earlier in the week. But Matt Williams has stuck by him, and that faith has been rewarded — for now. Let’s see if this is the start of sustained production at the top of the lineup. Read full article here.

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