The Washington Nationals finished the first half of the season in first place in the NL East, during that span Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer showed that they were two of the most special players at their respective positions. The Nats suffered several injuries along the way but still maintain a two game lead in the division, picking up two key victories before the break by winning their series with the Orioles two games to one.
Injuries are are a part of sports, the Nats dealt with them well as several players stepped up to fill roles unexpectedly. Michael Taylor immediately comes to mind, the second year outfielder was supposed to spend this year in the minors. Called into action in the big leagues sooner than expected, the young Taylor has responded fairly well. He’s batting .246 and has driven in 32 runs(RBIs) on the year. His speed has helped him in the field while playing alongside Span and Harper. Taylor wasn’t the only one ushered into a large role as Clint Robinson, Dan Uggla, and Tyler Moore have also contributed as needed.
Some questioned the albatross sized contract that Max Scherzer received from Washington in the offseason, he’s proven that he’s worth every single penny, if not more in the first half of the season. He’s been lights out, there were a couple of weeks where he took a couple of ‘perfect’ games into the seventh and eight innings. Max is 10-7 with a 2.11 ERA on the season, he and the rest of the staff have been pretty solid considering injuries. As a staff they rank ninth in ERA and 10th in quality starts with 50 in the first 88 games.
When Bryce Harper was drafted, there was a ton of hype that came with it. This is the season where it appears that hype is now reality, the kid has been in a zone all year. He’s been much more patient at the plate, that discipline has paid off as he’s batting .339 with 26 homers and 61 RBIs. He’s been nothing short of remarkable this season. With a staff like Washington’s, it’s just a matter of how consistent their bats can be. Their pitchers don’t need a ton of run support and it wouldn’t hurt to ease some of the load off of Harper’s shoulders.
Washington starts the second half of with a matchup against another top team in the National League, the Dodgers. This three-game series should be electric as two of the bests hurlers in the league are involved, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer won’t face each other but will pitch. There’s also Jordan Zimmerman and Zach Greinke, it should be a tough series for the bats of each team. Although, the Dodgers will have to be with a matured Harper at the plate. Not a bad way to start the second half of the season off at all!!