Nationals Stock Watch: Harper's heating up

Nationals Stock Watch: Harper's heating up
April 16, 2014, 12:30 pm
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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.