Pitchers get best marks on Nats’ report card


Relief pitcher Rafael Soriano should have been named to the all-star team. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

It’s summertime, but some folks still get report cards. Folks such as the Washington Nationals.

Since this is the week of the all-star break, it’s a good time to give out grades to the key Nats players. Remember, I’m a tough teacher. If a Nats player is average for a major league starter at his position, he gets a C. A player has to be an all-star-caliber performer to get an A from Mr. Bowen.

Let’s take a look at this year’s report.

Starting pitching

Stephen Strasburg B+

Jordan Zimmermann A-


Denard Span is good in the field, but to raise his grade, his hitting needs improvement. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Gio Gonzalez B

Doug Fister B

Tanner Roark B+

The Nats’ starting pitchers are the backbone of the team. Washington gets a quality start almost every night from this talented group of five hurlers. That may be the reason the Nats have given up fewer runs than almost any team in the majors. All I can say to this group is: Keep up the good work.

Infield

Wilson Ramos C

Adam LaRoche B+

Anthony Rendon B+

Ian Desmond C+

Ryan Zimmerman C

While LaRoche and Rendon have been solid at the plate, the Nats’ offense has been just average so far this season. The team is in the middle of the pack for runs scored. Big reasons for that have been injuries to Ramos, Zimmerman and outfielder Bryce Harper. While the infield’s defense improves when Danny Espinosa (I give him a “D”) plays, the team’s offense gets much worse.

Outfield

Bryce Harper C-

Denard Span C

Jayson Werth B

Span is an above-average fielder but a below-average hitter. That means he gets a “C.” I was tempted to give Bryce Harper an “incomplete” because he has been hurt most of the season. The Nats really need their prized young — he’s still only 21 — slugger to live up to his potential in the second half of the season. Werth is a steady pro.

Relief pitching

Rafael Soriano A

Tyler Clippard A-

Drew Storen A-

While the Nats’ starters have been very good, their frontline relievers have been outstanding. Soriano should have been an all-star. Clippard and Storen have been almost as good. The top three out of the bullpen have pitched a combined 107 innings and allowed only 17 earned runs — an ERA (earned run average) of 1.43. That’s terrific.

Outlook

If the Nats can stay healthy — I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed — and Ramos, Zimmerman and Harper start hitting, the Nats could win the National League East Division and get a report card at the end of the season that any kid would be proud to put on the refrigerator.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 19 sports books for kids, including nine baseball books. His 20th book — “Double Reverse” — will be published in August.

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