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Nationals Stock Watch: Harper’s heating up

Apr 16, 2014, 12:31 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Record: 3-4
Team slash: .289/.358/.489
Team ERA: 5.17
Runs per game: 5.5

STOCK UP 

Bryce Harper, LF: 13-24/1 HR/ 5 RBI/.586 OBP/1.426 OPS 

Now this is closer to the Bryce Harper everyone expected coming into the season. After a tough first week, the Nationals’ left fielder was able to rebound with a couple breakout games against the Marlins at home, and has since sustained that over the last few days. Perhaps the only thing missing from the equation so far are the power numbers, but he has plenty of time to fix that.

Anthony Rendon, INF: 8-28/5 XBH/4 RBI/.375 OBP/.982 OPS

For the second straight week, Rendon finds his stock rising. He didn’t post the numbers he did in his first week, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowed down any. He had five more extra base hits in the last seven days (second only to Harper during that stretch) and remains the offense’s biggest spark plug early in this season.

Danny Espinosa, 2B: 6-15/.471 OBP/1.137 OPS 

Though he hasn’t had flashy numbers so far, it’s still been a very auspicious start to the season for Espinosa. Essentially forgotten after a tough 2013, Espinosa’s been able to find a way back onto the roster and has carved a nice niche for himself as a key bench player. Will he ever live up to the potential most thought he had a few season ago? No one knows. But so far this season, he’s shown that a career rebound is certainly possible.

STOCK DOWN 

Stephen Strasburg, SP: 1-1/ 5.91 ERA/1.41 WHIP 

Boy, it’s not a good thing when the ace of the staff finds himself here two weeks in a row. It looked like Strasburg was shaking off the tough start to his season with a great performance against the Marlins at home last week, but then he took a major step backwards Tuesday night against the very same team on the road. Once again, the first inning was his undoing, as he allowed three runs in the first frame, and six runs overall over just four innings of work. Needless to say, Strasburg has to start pitching like the top of the rotation starter the Nationals need him to be.

Craig Stammen, RP: 5.1 IP/2.06 WHIP/10.13 ERA

It’s been a rough last couple of outings for Stammen, who gave up a long ball Saturday night against the Braves and then surrendered five earned runs in mop-up duty vs. the Marlins Tuesday. It’s too early in the season to say that the bullpen is in flux, but with Stammen’s recent struggles along with Tyler Clippard’s, you wonder if manager Matt Williams would eventually put certain relievers in different roles if things continue to go south.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B:  Thumb Injury

Unfortunately for Zimmerman, his tough-luck start to the season continues as he suffered a broken thumb over the weekend vs.the Braves. He’ll reportedly be out of the lineup for a few weeks, but even when he does return, he’ll have to deal with whatever lingering pain that’ll stem from the thumb on top of the nagging shoulder issues he’s been dealing with. Not a great situation for Zim, who probably wanted to show that his health problems were behind him.

  1. Sonny G 10 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    We still have a chance to break from the trend we displayed last year. Let’s hope we start tonight.

    • Eric - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Agreed. Looking a little further than tonight, there are two things I’d *really* like to see play out differently this April:

      1. Split with the Cards, or better
      2. 3+ games over .500 on May 1.

      I would aim higher for #2, but all the injuries cause me to temper my hopes, let alone my expectations.

      • nats106 - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        I have to agree with you. I originally thought (given home games and strength of schedule) that anything less than 18-10 at the end of April would be a failure. Right now 16-12 might be tough and I would consider it a success if achieved.

        I don’t think this view is negative. I see it as realistic (and maybe too hopeful)

      • bowdenball - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        3+ games over 500 on May 1 would be perfectly fine with me. Any team that loses its #3 and cleanup hitters from its opening day lineup for almost all of a given month, and also loses its leadoff guy and best defensive player for a week or two of that month, would be happy to be over .500 for that month.

      • chaz11963 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        If we win 16 games a month that’s a 96 win pace!

  2. nats2005 - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Next 5 games are tough.

    Someone mentioned earlier, you have Fernandez tonight, then Wainwright, Wacha, Lynn, and Miller.

    Add that to our starting pitching being a huge question mark and the Cards lineup still being quite formidable. Getting out of that at or above .500 (10 – 9) would be a victory in my mind.

    Then you have 9 games against sub .500 teams to get you to 16 wins (16 – 12).

    That would be 3 1/2 games better than 2013 when we went (13 – 14) in April.

    Diz

    • nats106 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      I would also add that the Cards (although a great team) have their weaknesses as well. While the lineup is pretty fearsome, that defensive OF leaves a lot to be desired. Holliday has always been a bit of a liability and the move of Craig to RF to make room for Adams leaves less speed than is really needed out there. Jay can’t cover enough ground to make up for both their liabilities.

      Too bad we are getting them early before they catch Peralta juicing again.

      And all this coming from a Cards fan!

      • nats106 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        sorry Bourjos/Jay in CF

  3. Drew - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Per MLBTR:

    Mets outright Lannan to Vegas, promote Daisuke.

    Lannan worked four innings out of the pen and allowed three homers. He can choose to reject the assignment and become a free agent.

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      Hope he squirreled away a lot of that $5M he got from the Nats. He may need that to live on.

  4. Eric - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Rendon 3B, Harper LF, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, McLouth CF, Lobaton C, Roark P

  5. chaz11963 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Good report, Chase. You should do one if these every few weeks.

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