Nationals missing top young stars for series vs. Rockies

USA TODAY Sports

Washington and its anemic offense will be without Bryce Harper (and Stephen Strasburg) during a three-game set at Coors Field this week.

After winning a National League-best 98 games in 2012, the Washington Nationals have stumbled to a 31-31 start this season, due in part to injuries to their top two young players.

Bryce Harper, who got off to a phenomenal start, hasn't played since May 26 after suffering a knee injury and landing on the disabled list. Prior to that, Harper was by far Washington's best offensive player, hitting .287/.386/.587 with 12 home runs.

Stephen Strasburg missed his last start and he, too, wound up on the DL with a strained right lat muscle. Strasburg, despite holding a record of 3-5, has a 2.54 ERA and good walk and strikeout numbers, though he's not punching out batters at the same rate as a year ago.

The update on those two is promising, says Jared Book of SB Nation's Nationals community Federal Baseball. For that, and more, check out the Q&A session below. And, don't forget to check out my answers to Jared's Rockies-related questions.

*****

Bryan Kilpatrick: The Nationals, as a team, have a .291 on-base percentage. How likely is that figure to stay that way? And, if it doesn't improve, can this team still find ways to win as the season goes on?

Jared Book: I would figure that this will not last much longer. It is a major reason for the Nationals' sluggish start so far this season. If it doesn't improve, the team can probably still find a way to hover around .500 because their pitching is so strong, but if it doesn't improve drastically, it will mean a very disappointing season because there is no chance that the Nationals will be able to catch up to the teams ahead of them.

BK: Jordan Zimmermann is awesome. He never allows walks or hits, but he also doesn't strike out many batters. What's the secret to his success?

Jordan Zimmermann

#27 / Pitcher / Washington Nationals

6-2

220

R

R

May 23, 1986


W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2013 - Jordan Zimmermann 8-3 2.16 0.91 53 11


JB: Zimmermann is the only Nationals starting pitcher to really build on his success last year except for maybe Ross Detwiler, who is currently on his way back from injury. Zimmermann has really improved his control. His walks are down from last year and he is allowing a lot less solid contact from hitters. Ground balls are up, which is a sign of him being on his game, and infield pop ups are up while fly balls are down. He doesn't need to strike out players to succeed because the contact he's been allowing has been so weak. It also allows him to go deeper into games which has been necessary, especially his start in the first half of the doubleheader on Sunday.

BK: Can you give us general health updates on Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg?

JB: Not horrible. Both are expected back relatively shortly and Strasburg is probably ahead of Harper. The team has been infamously careful with Strasburg and from his early departure in his last start to him taking a trip to the disabled list, the situation is mostly labeled as precautionary. He threw a bullpen yesterday and should be good to go when he's eligible to come off of the DL or not long after.

Harper has more question marks. What was supposed to be swelling and bursitis has not really healed the way it was supposed to and he's getting a second opinion. The team is calling it protocol but there's an air of mystery surrounding it which is a little bit concerning considering he had been the best hitter on the team, if not the National League, before he started to struggle with injuries.

BK: Assuming they'll need it down the stretch, what kind of help is available in the Nationals' farm system?

JB: Honestly? Not much else. The team has called up six rookies in the last couple of weeks. From Nathan Karns, Erik Davis and Ian Krol on the pitching side to Anthony Rendon, Jeff Kobernus and Chris Marrero on the offensive side, there isn't much immediate help.

Ross Ohlendorf and Chris Young are notable veterans in Syracuse who can provide spot starts if need be and Christian Garcia really made some noise at the end of last year and is rehabbing right now as well. Once guys like Detwiler, Strasburg and Harper come back from injuries, some of these rookies will go back down and provide some more depth.

BK: What's your prediction for this series?

JB: I will expect the Nationals offense to continue their strong play from the doubleheader on Sunday and playing at Coors should help that. With the Nationals' probables being up in the air right now due to injuries, rainouts and doubleheaders, all I will say is this: the Nationals need to continue winning series to climb the standings so I will go in that direction.

*****

Probable pitchers

Game 1: Tuesday, June 11 at 6:40 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)

Dan Haren (4-7, 5.45 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 4.59 ERA)

Game 2: Wednesday, June 12 at 6:40 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)

Ross Ohlendorf (4-4, 7.77) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (7-3, 3.38)

Game 3: Thursday, June 13 at 1:10 p.m. MT (no TV)

Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.59) vs. Jeff Francis (2-4, 6.30)

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Batting

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
Zach Duke 12 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000
Bryce Harper 44 150 29 43 7 1 12 23 25 30 2 2 .287 .386 .587
Denard Span 57 230 25 63 11 5 0 15 16 34 6 3 .274 .324 .365
Ryan Zimmerman 46 171 22 46 6 2 6 28 19 42 3 0 .269 .344 .433
Ian Desmond 59 224 23 60 17 2 8 24 11 54 5 1 .268 .298 .469
Anthony Rendon 10 34 3 9 3 0 0 1 5 10 0 0 .265 .359 .353
Wilson Ramos 14 48 4 12 3 0 2 6 4 8 0 1 .250 .308 .438
Gio Gonzalez 13 20 1 5 1 0 1 1 1 6 0 0 .250 .286 .450
Jayson Werth 30 113 18 28 2 0 5 12 6 26 2 0 .248 .292 .398
Adam LaRoche 57 196 27 48 7 1 10 28 26 58 2 0 .245 .332 .444
Kurt Suzuki 44 143 10 34 7 1 2 12 12 21 2 0 .238 .299 .343
Steve Lombardozzi 48 129 11 29 6 1 0 13 3 18 0 2 .225 .237 .287
Dan Haren 12 21 1 4 2 0 0 1 0 11 0 0 .190 .190 .286
Roger Bernadina 45 94 8 16 3 1 2 4 5 28 2 0 .170 .228 .287
Stephen Strasburg 12 24 1 4 2 0 0 0 0 9 0 0 .167 .167 .250
Danny Espinosa 44 158 11 25 9 0 3 12 4 47 1 0 .158 .193 .272
Tyler Moore 37 94 7 14 5 0 2 13 6 36 0 0 .149 .198 .266
Chad Tracy 36 56 1 8 0 0 1 3 3 15 0 2 .143 .186 .196
Jordan Zimmermann 12 25 1 3 0 0 0 0 1 9 0 0 .120 .154 .120
Jhonatan Solano 9 17 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 .118 .167 .118
Ross Detwiler 8 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 11 0 0 .000 .067 .000
Eury Perez 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Nate Karns 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Craig Stammen 16 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 .000 .333 .000
Jeff Kobernus 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .333 .000
Drew Storen 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Ryan Mattheus 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Tyler Clippard 26 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Rafael Soriano 24 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Henry Rodriguez 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Fernando Abad 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Yunesky Maya 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Ian Krol 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
Erik Davis 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000

Pitching

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
Fernando Abad 0-0 8 0 0 0 0 0 7.0 3 0 0 0 1 6 0.00 .57
Ian Krol 0-0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.2 1 0 0 0 0 3 0.00 .60
Jordan Zimmermann 8-3 12 12 3 1 0 0 87.2 69 24 21 6 11 53 2.16 .91
Stephen Strasburg 3-5 12 12 0 0 0 0 74.1 58 30 21 6 21 73 2.54 1.06
Rafael Soriano 1-1 24 0 0 0 15 3 24.0 23 8 7 2 4 18 2.63 1.13
Ross Detwiler 2-4 8 8 0 0 0 0 45.2 56 16 14 3 10 23 2.76 1.45
Tyler Clippard 4-1 26 0 0 0 0 0 25.0 13 8 8 2 12 27 2.88 1.00
Craig Stammen 3-2 16 0 0 0 0 1 29.2 30 11 11 2 9 32 3.34 1.31
Gio Gonzalez 3-3 13 13 0 0 0 0 77.2 59 33 31 7 35 74 3.59 1.21
Henry Rodriguez 0-1 17 0 0 0 0 0 18.0 14 8 8 1 16 11 4.00 1.67
Drew Storen 0-1 25 0 0 0 1 3 24.0 29 13 11 3 6 23 4.13 1.46
Ryan Mattheus 0-0 14 0 0 0 0 1 16.1 20 9 9 0 5 12 4.96 1.53
Dan Haren 4-7 12 12 0 0 0 0 67.2 83 45 41 15 9 53 5.45 1.36
Nate Karns 0-1 2 2 0 0 0 0 9.0 12 7 6 4 3 9 6.00 1.67
Zach Duke 1-1 12 1 0 0 0 0 20.2 31 22 20 2 8 11 8.71 1.89
Erik Davis 0-0 3 0 0 0 0 0 3.0 5 3 3 0 1 5 9.00 2.00
Yunesky Maya 0-1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 2 2 2 1 0 0 54.00 6.00


Washington Nationals Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Ross Detwiler back 05/16/2013
Ryan Mattheus hand 05/20/2013
Bryce Harper knee 05/27/2013
Stephen Strasburg other-excused 06/01/2013
Danny Espinosa wrist 06/03/2013
Wilson Ramos hamstring 05/16/2013
Christian Garcia forearm 03/22/2013

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