Quick Links

LaRoche, not Harper should be in home run derby

803960.png

LaRoche, not Harper should be in home run derby

2012 MLB Home Run Derby captain Matt Kemp said earlier this week he wouldn't select Bryce Harper as a participant, that his stats didn't qualify. It was reported, however, that he planned to select teammate Andre Ethier who has more homers than Harper, but not enough to put him at the top of the league.

Kemp's participation has been in serious question because of injury and now Ethier looks headed to the disabled list with an oblique strain. If both are still hurting on July 9, that could open some spots in the derby. While many will clamor for Harper to get in, another Nationals player may be even more worthy.

With two home runs in Tuesday's game, first baseman Adam LaRoche moved all the way to sixth in the National League with 15 home runs on the year. He is tied with Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers and trails five N.L. players including Carlos Beltran and Ryan Braun who lead the league with 20 homers each.

One thing that could help LaRoche is his recent surge in power numbers. LaRoche has hit seven home runs in the month of June which is tops in the National League. He is legitimately the hottest power hitter in the N.L. at the moment.

LaRoche has more home runs than any N.L. first baseman or infielder for that matter. Six of the other top seven sluggers this year are outfielders and Houston shortstop Jed Lowrie is the only other infielder in the top ten.

Will Kemp mix it up and put some infielders in the competition? If so, then LaRoche should be included. He would be the first Washington Nationals participant and the fifth overall in franchise history.

Hubie Brooks represented the Montreal Expos in 1986, Larry Walker did it in 1992, left fielder Henry Rodriguez (the other one) in 1996, and Vladimir Guerrero in 2000. All four players combined for a total of 10 home runs across the four appearances, not a good showing overall. LaRoche himself has never been in the showcase, but once hit 32 home runs in 2006 and has 179 overall in nine seasons.

At 32 and in the middle of a comeback year, LaRoche wouldn't exactly draw viewers to the event. But then again, if they pass on Harper then ratings must not be the primary goal.

There is also the concern of LaRoche's swing being thrown off by participating. It is always possible for a player to come out of the derby in a prolonged funk after swinging for the fences over and over to please the crowd. But all in all, it would be fun for the Nats to have someone in the event and another highlight of a season to remember so far.

Quick Links

Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

National League home run leader Bryce Harper is among four starters out of the lineup for the Washington Nationals in their series finale against the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Matt Wieters also did not start for the Nationals, who open a nine-game, 10-day road trip Monday afternoon in San Francisco.

Murphy missed the previous two games due to illness, Chris Speier said Saturday. Speier, serving as acting manager with Dusty Baker away this weekend to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in California, did not meet with the media before Sunday's game.

RELATED: Nationals' Joe Ross to Start Against Team That Drafted Him

Harper is batting .337 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Washington won the first two matchups in the three-game series.

Joe Ross (2-0, 5.32) faces fellow right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) on Sunday.

Quick Links

Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

WASHINGTON -- On Dec. 19, 2014, the San Diego Padres traded pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later -- it would be Trea Turner -- to the Washington Nationals in a three-team deal that included the Tampa Bay Rays.

Since that trade, the Padres have posted a record of 160-215 while the Nationals are 208-166 after they won 3-0 Saturday as Stephen Strasburg struck out a career-high 15 batters in seven innings and the Washington staff fanned 17.

As a reminder of what could have been, Ross (2-0, 5.32) makes the start Sunday against San Diego right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) in the finale of the three-game series at Nationals Park.

First-place Washington is 30-18 while last-place San Diego is 18-33.

Ross was drafted by the Padres in the first round out of his California high school in 2011. Ross is 2-0 in his career against San Diego with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. Last year, he went six innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs in a win against the Padres.

"I was not around Joe at all," said Andy Green, in his second year as the San Diego manager. "We saw him last year; he is a sinkerballer."

The Padres did acquire All-Star first baseman Wil Myers in the trade.

The Nationals have scored a record 62 runs in the four starts made this year by Ross, more than any other pitcher has received in his first four starts of a season. That included a 23-5 victory at home April 30 against the New York Mets and a 10-1 win Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.

Ross, who broke into the majors with the Nationals in 2015, was in the rotation last season and made 19 starts before going on the disabled list. He was in line to be the No. 5 starter, but began the season at Triple-A Syracuse.

Chacin is 3-2 in six starts against Washington and has a 3.09 ERA. He has made three career starts at Nationals Park and is 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA while allowing only one run in 20 innings.

The Nationals played their second game in a row Saturday without second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was ill.

Nationals bench coach Chris Speier, filling in for manager Dusty Baker, said before the game that Murphy was ill. Murphy entered the day hitting .316 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.

"He's available. This is Dusty's theory: Usually when somebody comes in and says, 'I'm ready,' then he usually gives him one more day. But he's available," Speier told reporters before the game.

Murphy entered Saturday seventh in the National League in hits with 56, just ahead of teammate Bryce Harper (55). Murphy was also among the league leaders in multi-hit games and road batting average.

Washington shortstop Turner, drafted by the Padres in the first round out of North Carolina State, had two hits, including a homer, Friday and was 1-for-4 Saturday.

Another hot hitter for Washington is center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who hit a homer for the second day in a row Saturday and has four homers in his last 14 games.

"I'm looking for my pitch and staying in my zone," Taylor said. "I'm not trying to do too much."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg has career-high 15 strikeouts in Nationals win over Padres