The Nationals are almost whole again. Let the fun begin.
We may look back as Monday night being the day the Washington Nationals finally got their mojo back. They’ve had a tough, tough first half, slowed by assortment of slumps, injuries and poor baseball. Let’s also give the Braves credit for sprinting out of the gate and opening up a 7 1/2-game lead.
Can the Nationals make up a lead that is now 6 games on a really good Atlanta team? The Braves had a tough offensive month, averaging just 3.7 runs per game. But the pitching staff was dazzling, compiling a 2.71 ERA, and the division lead grew from 4 1/2 to 6 1/2. That’s because the Nationals went just 13-13 as their offense continued to scuffle as well.
Now, though, Bryce Harper is back in the lineup, allowing Davey Johnson to move Jayson Werth into the second spot and Anthony Rendon to seven. Those two changes give the lineup an explosive bat in the middle and more depth. With Stephen Strasburg and Harper both healthy, this looks the Nationals’ moment.
It’ll be interesting to see how they position themselves in the 13 games before the All-Star Break because it gets really interesting afterwards with an 11-game homestand that begins with three against the Dodgers and four against the Pirates. They’ve got nine more against the Braves, the last of those coming in mid-September.