Washington Nationals News: Win over Brewers shows how badly Nats need Bryce Harper

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Jul 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) rounds third base after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning off Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza (not pictured) during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) rounds third base after hitting a three-run home run during the first inning off Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza (not pictured) during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bryce Harper’s three-run homer gave the Washington Nationals an important 7-4 win over the Brewers last night, once again demonstrating how badly the Nats need him to get going offensively.

The first month of the season was a breeze for the Washington Nationals, in large part because 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper was absolutely on fire.

Since then, however, Harper’s production at the plate has stalled, and it’s been up to players like Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos to lead the lineup to success. But last night Harper showed how he can change a game with one swing of the bat — drilling a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.

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Manager Dusty Baker put Harper in the cleanup spot for yesterday’s game, and he delivered — big time. The homer was Harper’s 18th of the season.

Perhaps even more important than Harper’s three-run blast was Ryan Zimmerman’s two-run homer later in the game, which gave the Nationals key insurance runs. Unlike Harper, Zimmerman’s bat hasn’t come around at all this season.

If the Nationals are going to accomplish their goals in 2016, they’ll need both Harper and Zimmerman to get hot and stat hot in the second half, down the stretch and into the postseason. The team has made it pretty far with a slumping Harper and a near nonexistent Zimmerman in the lineup — boasting the fourth best record and the second-highest run differential in the game.

They also lead the second-place Mets in the NL East by four games.

But imagine what the offense could do if Harper and Zimmerman joined Murphy, Danny Espinosa and Ramos as key figures in the lineup. Imagine if the Nationals — with all the tools and advantages they already have — had the most fearsome middle of the batting order in the National League.

Next: Washington Nationals News: Ryan Zimmerman still looking for his groove in 2016

Well, we saw what that can lead to last night. And if both players manage to get hot soon and stay hot in the second half, there’s no telling what the Nationals can accomplish this fall.

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