Nationals Stock Watch: LaRoche staying hot

Nationals Stock Watch: LaRoche staying hot
April 30, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Record: 4-2
Team slash: .277/.335/.398
Team ERA: 2.73
Runs per game: 5.16

STOCK UP 

Adam LaRoche, 1B: .360 AVG/.429 OBP/.560 SLG/6 RBI 

With the way the Nationals' lineup has been bit by the injury bug this season, where would the offense be without LaRoche? The veteran first baseman has been a rock through April, leading the team in average, home runs, on-base percentage and RBIs. He kept it going with another solid week, starting it off with a walk-off single against the Angels last Wednesday and capped it with the late-inning, go-ahead RBI in Tuesday night's 4-3 victory against the Astros. With key parts of the lineup missing, he'll have to continue to carry the load offensively. 

Jayson Werth, RF: .393 AVG/.414 OBP/.571 SLG/4 RBI

Another veteran who may have to chip in more offensively while Bryce Harper is out is Werth, who is top three in most of the major offensive categories for the Nationals. He turned in a solid week that was highlighted by him setting the table for the ninth inning rally against the Angels, which helped kickstart a stetch where the team went 4-2. He, like LaRoche, is one of the more patient hitters in the Nats' lineup, which will be needed more than ever now that the offense will be without key pieces over the next few months. 

Tanner Roark, SP: 1-0/9.0 IP/0.00 ERA/0.44 WHIP 

Have yourself a month, Tanner Roark. In five April starts, he has gone 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA and nearly a three-to-one strikeout/walk ratio. He delivered his most impressive start of the season over the weekend, pitching a complete game shutout Saturday against the Padres. Roark's "stuff" isn't considered elite, but he still finds a way pound the strike zone, change speeds and get hitters out as consistently (if not more so) as any starter on the team right now. There's no way to know if Roark can keep this going, but all he's done since he was called up last season is pitch well, so there's no reason to doubt him yet. 

Jose Lobaton, C: .318 AVG/.581 SLG/1 HR/4 RBI

With Wilson Ramos out of the lineup for a while, the Nationals still have to get something offensively from the catcher spot. That's where Lobaton comes in, who had solid numbers with the Rays last season in a reserve role, which was the primary reason why Washington traded for him in the first place. Lobaton had his best week of the season at the plate, slugging .581 and helping to chip in to an offense still trying to find some consistency. 

STOCK DOWN 

Bryce Harper: Thumb injury (Out until July)

Quite simply, it's been a disastrous first month of the season for Harper. He started out of the gate slowly, then got benched for not hustling down the first base line, and now suffers a thumb injury that will keep him out until at least July. For all the talk before the season about how 2014 could be a breakout year for the Nationals' young phenom, it has instead turned into a referendum on his style of play thus far in his career. He plays hard, but is he playing recklessly? Is there anything Matt Williams and the Nationals can do to help him? Harper's raw talent is unquestioned, but after having this setback early in his second full season in the bigs, there are those who are wondering if he will be healthy enough to reach his potential. 

Ross Detwiler: 3.0 IP/ 0-1/9.00 ERA/3.00 WHIP

During a week in which his name was being tossed around as a possible replacement in the starting rotation for Taylor Jordan, Detwiler wasn't able to make his case as he struggled in a couple relief outings. His worst outing of the season came Sunday, when he was charged with a loss as he allowed three runs in just an inning and a third of work. With the rotation in flux as Doug Fister is still rehabbing, Detwiler has to prove to his manager that he could be a reliable option as a spot starter in the case of an injury or if Jordan continues to struggle.