Washington Nationals: Michael Taylor a different player in May

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May 10, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor (3) hits an RBI single at bat during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor (3) hits an RBI single at bat during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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Last night, Michael Taylor bailed out the Washington Nationals bullpen with his second eighth inning home run in the last week. He’s been a different player this month

Before Michael Taylor stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of Game 2 last night, it looked like the story of the day was going to be the Washington Nationals bullpen blowing two games. Then, Taylor changed the narrative with a two-run home run off the foul pole against Pat Neshek that gave the Nats a 6-5 lead.

That home run wasn’t the first one that sparked or capped a rally in the past week. On Wednesday night, his eighth inning home run against the Orioles cut a 6-2 deficit to 6-4. The Nats ended up winning that game by a final score of 7-6.

When you watch Taylor, it’s a roller coaster. He got off to a good start when he first took over for Adam Eaton in center field, but he ended April with a .219 batting average. Now, he’s been a different player in May as he’s hitting .302 with two home runs and six RBI’s in 45 at-bats.

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After his home run last night, Taylor told the media how he’s been quicker to make changes, which a lot of fans have wanted for a long time after watching him struggle at the plate with two strikes:


With these changes, Taylor had a streak of three straight multi-hit games going into Game 2 last night. Right now, he is tied for the team lead in hits for the month of May with Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. Yes, that surprised me just as much as it probably did you when you see the talent in this lineup.

As I break down baseball, one of my favorite stats I like to look at is the ability to take pitches. But, when it comes to Taylor, he might be better when the count doesn’t get deeper. This month, he’s seen 79 pitches, which is the second lowest of any Nats regular (Matt Wieters has 65).

Let’s look at some of samples of how Taylor does in different counts. When he hits the first pitch, he’s 4-for-10 with the two aforementioned home runs and he’s 7-for-17 when he’s ahead in the count. But, when the count gets to two strikes, he is 5-for-43 with 30 strikeouts.

In this era of baseball, strikeouts aren’t as frowned upon in the past. Taylor’s going to strike out a lot, but when he is hitting well at the bottom of the order, that only makes this Washington Nationals that much better.

If Taylor can stay consistent and make adjustments at the plate, he can grab the center field spot and never let it go for the rest of the year. That would help the Nats because it would allow them to solely focus on the bullpen at the trade deadline, which needs a lot of help.

Next: Baker Deepens Bullpen Mess

It may only be May, but Taylor is starting to heat up and that could only mean good things for the lineup. However many chances he’s had to impress the organization, maybe something has finally clicked for Taylor and it’s fun to watch.

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