The Washington Nationals offense finds another gear with the return of Jayson Werth and Trea Turner. How far can this team go?
If Monday night is any sign, the Washington Nationals will put on a show the last full month of the season.
The offense has needed a spark recently. All the injuries took a toll on what the Nats can do. With Michael Taylor up to speed, Jayson Werth back Monday and Trea Turner returning Tuesday, three of Washington’s four expected starters have returned.
There is no timetable currently for Bryce Harper’s come back.
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One advantage the Nats have when healthy is their ability to make pitchers grind through the lineup. Monday, six of the eight regular hitters saw over 20 pitches. Ryan Zimmerman forced 29 by himself. Werth and Anthony Rendon, patient to a fault at the plate, saw 24 each. Only Dee Gordon for Miami made Nats pitchers toss 20.
That bonus of wearing down starters effectively ended Miami’s Jose Urena’s night after four innings. Gunning for his 13th win, he threw a whopping 94 before his night was through. The bullpen combined for the same number over the last four.
Washington responded with their 20th double-digit run game of the year. They have smashed last year’s old record of 14 and have a month to go to pile on. With the firepower and speed in the lineup, this combination is lethal to other teams.
Also, it is fun to watch.
Highlighted by one of the year’s signature moments, Werth’s bomb to the back of the concourse in left field, the Nats sent a message to those paying attention in the Midwest and Los Angeles. This team can score runs at will.
With the mid-season trade for Howie Kendrick and the emergence of Wilmer Difo into a ready player, the Nats bench gets stronger as the regulars pour back from the disabled list. A team already leading the National League in runs is deeper for the stretch drive.
When you consider the revamped bullpen, the Nationals match up with any team they might face in the postseason regardless of league. Did we mention the entire starting rotation minus Joe Ross is active?
The key over the last month is ensuring players get enough playing time while remaining healthy. The schedule tilts in their favor the rest of the year with five left against the Marlins, four at Milwaukee and hosting Los Angeles for three being the only games left against potential playoff teams. Nineteen of their last 31 are against teams playing out the string.
Now 27-15 in the second half, imagine how far the Nats can go.