Washington Nationals: Top five storylines heading into the second half

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 09: Bryce Harper
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 09: Bryce Harper /
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As the Washington Nationals begin the second half of their season on Friday, here are five storylines to keep an eye on.

The first half of the 2017 season was an eventful one for the Washington Nationals. They have regressed a bit after going 17-8 in April, but are still among the best teams in the league and will be in the playoffs, barring anything unexpected.

The Nats got off to an outstanding start to the season and were clicking on all cylinders from day one. The starting lineup was potent; every starting position player except for Jayson Werth and Stephen Drew recorded a base hit during the Nats’ Opening Day win over the Marlins. The bench was powerful; Adam Lind hit a go-ahead pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning.

The rotation looked solid; Stephen Strasburg only allowed two runs over seven innings. Finally, the bullpen appeared to be lights-out; Sammy Solis pitched a perfect eighth before handing the ball to Blake Treinen, who earned the first save of the season.

Unfortunately, since Opening Day, the season has been filled with an abundance of frustration. The bullpen has been among the worst in the league, there have been seemingly countless injuries, and some players who figured to play key roles have struggled mightily.

Despite all the frustration and struggles, the Nats have managed to remain among the best teams in the league. After the first half, the Nats have the third-best record in the National League, and would be the number two seed if the playoffs began today.

In addition to team success, several Nats players have already received individual recognition. The Nationals sent five players to the All-Star Game for the second straight season this year. Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg all represented the Nats in Miami and appear to be in the running for more awards after the season.

The Nats had an exciting first half of the season and with the All-Star Break winding down, the second half is quickly approaching. With all that in mind, here are the top five storylines for the second half.

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