Nationals Stock Watch: Harper has rough week

Nationals Stock Watch: Harper has rough week
April 23, 2014, 12:00 pm
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(USA TODAY Sports)
Record: 3-4
Team slash:  .173/.272/.268
Team ERA:  3.68
Runs per game:  3

STOCK UP

Tanner Roark, SP: 13.0 IP/2.08 ERA/10K

Roark had a very solid week, even if his numbers don't jump out at you. He pitched well enough to win in each of his two starts, but didn't get enough run support to be the pitcher of record in either outing. He especially shined Monday night against the Angels, going 6.2 shutout innings against the high-octane Anaheim offense, but was denied the win when the bullpen faltered later in the game. It's early, but through four starts Roark is giving the impression that his stellar 2013 season may not have been a fluke. 

Rafael Soriano, SP: 1-0/0.00 ERA/0.33 WHIP/2 SVs

So far, so good for the Nationals' closer. While other parts of the bullpen are still trying to find their groove, Soriano is quietly putting together a nice April. He saved two more games this past week, which keeps him perfect so far in save opportunities with four on the season. Add in the fact that he hasn't given up an earned run in eight innings of work, and Nats fans have no reason to think he won't "untuck" if he's called upon these days. 

Danny Espinosa, 2B: .400 SLG/1 HR/10 TBs

It wasn't a great week for the offense overall, so no one in the lineup had sterling numbers. But Espinosa has continued to quietly re-invent himself at the plate, as well as provide quality defense at second. He's going to be asked to play more now that Ryan Zimmerman is out of the lineup for an extended period of time, so it'll be interesting to see if he can build on what's been a solid April. If he can keep the strikeouts down, he certainly has a shot. 

STOCK DOWN

Bryce Harper, LF: .091 AVG/.167 OBP/5 K  

To say Harper didn't have a good week would be a bit of an understatement. For one, he struggled at the plate, notching just two hits in 22 at-bats. But the lowlight came when he made headlines over the weekend for getting benched by Matt Williams for what the manager called a "lack of hustle" when running down the first base line on a groundout.  A player usually known for his tenacity and relentlessness, Harper of all people had to have been a bit embarrassed to be benched for that reason. So as you'd expect, he came out the next game and responded to the challenge, hustling down the line when he had to. Will this incident be the turning point of the season for him? Time will tell. 

Taylor Jordan, SP: 0-2/7.82 ERA/1.65 WHIP

Jordan lost back-to-back starts this week, extending his losing streak to three straight overall. Though he hasn't had the best defense behind him (four of the 13 runs he's allowed the last week have been unearned), the Nationals need him to do better. While he hasn't been issuing a ton of walks lately, hitters have had an easy time seeing his pitches and crushing mistakes (see Pujols, Albert). Sure, he's not supposed to be the staff ace, but he still has to provide some type of stability on the back end of the rotation while Doug Fister continues to rehab. 

Tyler Clippard, RP: 0-1/2.0 IP/4 R/3.00 WHIP

Clippard's inconsistency had already been a bit of a concern heading into Monday night's game against the Angels. But after he allowed four runs in the eighth inning of a tie game, it's now become a mini crisis for Matt Williams. Should Clippard be given some time off, or should he be taken out of the setup man role entirely? Williams said after Monday night's poor outing that he will stick with Clippard in eighth inning situations, but you wonder just how long that will last. There are a number of options he could go with in that spot, from Drew Storen to Aaron Barrett to even Ross Detwiler, so you'd think Clippard has to start turning this around soon.