Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, RHP Stephen Strasburg take home monthly honors

The Washington Nationals swept the monthly National League awards for July with second baseman Daniel Murphy earning the NL Player of the Month and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg honored as the NL Pitcher of the Month. Major League Baseball made the announcements on MLB Network on Wednesday.

Murphy, who also earned the NL Player of the Month award for the month of May, finished July hitting .346 with a .372 on-base percentage and a .744 slugging percentage. In a month that featured Murphy’s second career All-Star nod and the only multi-hit performance for the NL team in the Midsummer Classic, the Nationals’ second baseman reached base in 18 of the 22 games he played, and had a hit in 17 of those 22. Since July 7, Murphy has hit .413.

The National League leader in batting average (.356), slugging percentage (.623), on-base plus slugging percentage (1.018), hits (136), doubles (32), extra-base hits (57), and multi-hit games (43), Murphy also leads all National League second basemen in home runs (20), RBI (79) and extra-base hits (57). Murphy hit 11 doubles, one triple and six home runs during the month of July, driving in 23 runs and walking twice. Six of his 23 RBI brought home the go-ahead run.

On July 17 vs. Pittsburgh, Murphy stepped off the bench to deliver a two-strike, two-out, game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The homer propelled the Nationals and Pirates into extra innings, where they remained until the Pirates prevailed in the 18th inning. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Murphy is just the second pinch-hitter in Nationals history (2005-present) to clobber a game-tying or go-ahead home run with two outs in the ninth inning or later in a game in which the team was scoreless to that point.

For Strasburg, July continued the dominant pattern the right-hander has been following since the end of 2015 (including a 16-game winning streak from Sept. 15, 2015-July 15, 2016). While the month featured his first loss of the season, he went 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA in five starts and only once allowed more than one earned run in an outing. He held opponents to a .127 average, a .208 on-base percentage, and a .220 slugging percentage during July. While striking out 37 batters in 34.2 innings, he walked just 12.

Also enjoying the second All-Star nod of his career, Strasburg struck out 9.61 batters per nine innings during July, while averaging only 3.89 hits per nine innings in that same span. With his first start of August, on Monday night, Strasburg improved to 15-1 on the season. According to Elias, he is just the second Major League pitcher in the last 60 years to have at least 15 wins and no more than one loss in his first 20 starts of the season, joining Jered Weaver (LAA, 2012) and Don Newcombe (BKN, 1955).

This is the second Player of the Month award of Murphy’s career (May, 2016), as well as the second of Strasburg’s career (April, 2012). They are the 12th and 13th Pitcher/Player monthly honor for the Nationals organization. They join Bryce Harper, who earned Player of the Month honors in April, as Nationals honorees this season. Murphy and Strasburg are also the first set of Nationals teammates to sweep the monthly awards since Harper and Scherzer did so in May, 2015.

The other Nationals’ past monthly award winners are: Harper (April, 2016 & May, 2015), Jayson Werth (July, 2013 & July, 2014), Max Scherzer (May, 2015 & June, 2015), Jordan Zimmermann (July, 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May, 2012), Stephen Strasburg (April, 2012), and Chad Cordero (June, 2005).