MLB Who's Hot, Who's Not: Fister, Nationals blaze through NL East

Some have slumped, while others have simmered. Here's our weekly review of who's running hot and cold around Major League Baseball.

(Clockwise from top left) Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb, Washington's Doug Fister, Atlanta's Justin Upton and Boston's David Ortiz are this week's hottest pitchers and hitters.

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Some have slumped, while others have simmered. Here's our weekly review of who's running hot and cold around Major League Baseball.

Stats through Aug. 21


AL -- Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays

Cobb went 4-0 with a 0.88 ERA in six starts from July 23-Aug. 21. The right-hander allowed just four runs, 30 hits and struck out 46 in 41 innings during the span. From June 29-Aug. 21, he won seven consecutive decisions and went at least seven innings in four appearances. Overall, he's 9-6 with a 3.01 ERA and 116 strikeouts this season.

NL -- Doug Fister, Washington Nationals

Fister went 3-1 with a 0.51 ERA in five starts from July 27-Aug. 17. The right-hander allowed five runs (two earned), 27 hits and struck out 25 in 35 1/3 innings during the span for the streaking Nationals. He's 2-1 with a strong 0.64 ERA and 20 strikeouts in four August starts. Overall, he's 12-3 with a 2.20 ERA and 74 strikeouts this season.


AL -- David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

Ortiz hit .571 (12 for 21) with four home runs and eight RBI in six games from Aug. 15-21. He had four multi-hit contests in the span, the highlight being a 4-for-4 day with one home run and one RBI in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 20. From Aug. 9-21, he hit safely in eight of nine games played. He has hit .263 with 30 home runs and 93 RBI this season.

NL -- Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

Upton hit .440 (11 for 25) with three home runs and 12 RBI in seven games from Aug. 15-21. He had four games with two hits each in the span, part of a larger stretch that includes at least one hit in each game from Aug. 10-21. He has gone without a hit in just three games this month, against the San Diego Padres on Aug. 3, the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 6 and Washington Nationals on Aug. 9. He has hit .290 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI this season.


AL -- Los Angeles Angels

The Angels went 6-1 in games from Aug. 15-21. They topped American League bottom feeders in the stretch, beating the Texas Rangers twice in a three-game series and sweeping the Boston Red Sox in a four-game set. At 76-50, they own the majors' best record and lead the Oakland Athletics by two games in the AL West.

NL -- Washington Nationals

The majors' hottest team, the Nationals went 7-0 in contests from Aug. 15-21 as part of a 10-game winning streak that began Aug. 12. The sprint has included sweeps of the New York Mets (three games), Pittsburgh Pirates (three) and Arizona Diamondbacks (four). Remarkably, Washington won seven games decided by one run from Aug. 12-21. With a 73-53 record, the Nationals lead the Atlanta Braves by seven games in the National League East. Only the Baltimore Orioles' nine-game edge in the American League East over the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays is larger.

(Clockwise from top left) Boston's Ruby De La Rosa, Chicago Cubs' Travis Wood, Miami's Casey McGehee, and Boston's Xander Bogaerts are this week's featured cold pitchers and hitters.

USA Today Sports


AL -- Rubby De La Rosa, Boston Red Sox

De La Rosa went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in starts against the Houston Astros on Aug. 16 and Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21. The right-hander allowed eight runs, 17 hits and seven walks in 10 2/3 innings during the appearances. From July 24-Aug. 21, he lost three of four decisions. Overall, he's 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA and 58 strikeouts this season.

NL -- Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs

Wood went 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in starts against the New York Mets on Aug. 15 and San Francisco Giants on Aug. 21. The left-hander allowed seven runs, 12 hits and five walks in 11 1/3 innings during the appearances. From June 21-Aug. 21, he lost six consecutive decisions. Overall, he's 7-11 with a 4.91 ERA and 126 strikeouts this season.


AL -- Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts went .045 (1 for 22) with seven strikeouts in seven games from Aug. 15-21. The lone hit in the skid came on a single in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 20. He has slumped throughout August, hitting just .108 with 19 strikeouts in 65 at-bats. He has hit .224 with eight home runs and 30 RBI this season.

NL -- Casey McGehee, Miami Marlins

McGehee hit .050 (1 for 20) with five strikeouts in five games from Aug. 15-20. The lone hit in the window came on a single in a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 15. The four-game hitting slump from Aug. 16-20 is his longest of the season. He has hit .294 with three home runs and 60 RBI this season.


AL -- Boston Red Sox

Continuing their second-half slide, the Red Sox went 1-6 in games from Aug. 15-21. The skid followed a four-game winning streak from Aug. 10-14, which was their longest string of victories since claiming five straight from July 13-21. They were held to three runs or fewer in each loss from Aug. 15-21, a window that included two defeats against the Houston Astros and four consecutive setbacks against the Los Angeles Angels. At 56-71, Boston owns the worst record in the American League East.

NL -- Cincinnati Reds

This month has been unkind to the Reds, who went 1-6 in games from Aug. 15-21. The lone victory in the stretch came against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 15. From Aug. 8-21, Cincinnati went 2-11, and the Reds have failed to win consecutive games since claiming three straight from Aug. 5-7. At 61-67, Cincinnati is fourth in the National League Central and trails the San Francisco Giants by seven games for the NL's second wild-card spot.


If at first you don't succeed, try again. Broadcaster Bob Costas offered a twist to the first-pitch concept when he was given a mulligan after a messy throw to St. Louis Cardinals catcher A.J. Pierzynski on his initial try Tuesday at Busch Stadium. The opening offering from Costas was a cringe-worthy toss that sailed far left of his target. But the second attempt was a major improvement, one that hints he has a bit of skill from the mound after all. Mission accomplished, even if Costas' "first pitch" became a second one as well.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at

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