Washington Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman slump cause for concern?

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 09: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals catches the ball to beat Ender Inciarte #11 of the Atlanta Braves at first during a baseball game at Nationals Park on July 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 09: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals catches the ball to beat Ender Inciarte #11 of the Atlanta Braves at first during a baseball game at Nationals Park on July 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Ryan Zimmerman has been one of the great surprises for the Washington Nationals this year, but his first half didn’t end on a great note

When you look at the Washington Nationals first half, the success of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was one of the main storylines. He went from one of the question marks on the team to a possible MVP candidate. Now that we are in the second half of the year, Zimmerman will be under more of a microscope.

Zimmerman’s first half numbers were very good, but he did not have a good end to that portion of the season. Over the last 30 days, he has hit .244 with two home runs and 14 RBI’s and has struck out 17 times.

Now, the exit velocity off the bat has still been there for Zimmerman this season. His 92.4 miles-per-hour exit velocity off the bat is 20th in all of baseball (according to StatCast). He is finding his hits during this tough stretch, but the extra-base hits haven’t been happening.

During the last 23 games, the 32-year-old had 21 hits, but only five of them were for extra-base hits (three doubles, two home runs). His last double came on June 29 against the Chicago Cubs while his last home run came back on June 13 against the Atlanta Braves. He is still stuck on 234 home runs for his career (tied for the most in Nats/Expos history).

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There are no signs that Zimmerman is hurt as he is having one of his healthier seasons in recent memory. However, it’s been a while since he played in over 100 games in a season. In the last four seasons, he only played in 100+ games twice. Injury might not be a factor, but fatigue could be.

Dusty Baker always does a good job in giving players days off. In the final week before the break, Zimmerman had three days off thanks to one of the Mets games that were rained out. It’s safe to say with a 9.5 game lead in the National League East, the Washington Nationals will have more opportunities to rest him.

Out of the cleanup spot in the batting order, Zimmerman is going to get more pitches to hit in between Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. However, if his struggles continue, does Baker consider a switch in the lineup between Zimmerman and Murphy like he did in May 2016.

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Nobody should panic about the lack of extra-base hits from Zimmerman lately, but he will be under the microscope in the second half. He is having a career season, but the veteran will want to have a strong second half and carry that into a potential deep postseason run.

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