Washington Nationals: Offense backs up stellar Jeremy Hellickson

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on July 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on July 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals starters finally got some run support, as Jeremy Hellickson twirled a gem to help the Nats get back to .500 heading into the break.

The Washington Nationals rounded off the first half nicely with a 6-1 win over the New York Mets. Jeremy Hellickson led the way, with six quality innings as he looked in complete control.

The right-hander allowed just two hits, two walks and one run over those six frames. He only threw 73 pitches, so may have gone another inning, had the Nats not pinch hit for him during their seventh-inning rally.

One of the most important things to note during this outing is that Hellickson was allowed to face the top four in the order three times. Usually, Davey Martinez has had a quick hook with him, but this time let him loose.

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It will be interesting to see if this trend continues out of the All-Star break, as it had been trending this way for a while. As he’s had plenty of outings like this with a low pitch count about to head through the order a third time.

If they do indeed give him a chance to extend his outings, it could give a much-needed rest to the bullpen down the road. But whether this happens or not, Jeremy Hellickson has been a huge steal for the Nationals this season.

Murphy comes up with the big knock

The Nationals played it aggressively in the seventh when they pinch hit for Michael Taylor. It paid off in a big way, as the pinch hitter Daniel Murphy gave the Nats the lead they wouldn’t surrender in this one.

Now over his last 19 games, he’s hitting .328 with 10 RBIs and even more remarkably he has seven walks to two strikeouts. The question now is how often will be able to play, as he started this one on the bench despite four off-days coming. Perhaps his injury is a day-to-day thing, or Martinez just wanted to give him a rest like he did Bryce Harper.

Either way, it’s great to have Murphy hitting like the old Murphy once again, and he could be a key to this offense in the second half.

Strasburg dominates in his final rehab assignment

Meanwhile, with the Potomac Nationals, starter Stephen Strasburg was getting in his final work before being activated from the disabled list. He cruised through 5.2 innings, allowing just five hits, three unearned runs and struck out seven.

He’s set to come off the DL in time to start Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. This would be a massive boost to the starting rotation, that has been one of baseball’s worst since Strasburg got injured. We look forward to seeing him back in the big leagues.

Next: Five potential starting rotation targets

Now it’s time to kick back and relax for a few days, as some of the Washington Nationals partake in the Al-Star Game festivities. First up, Bryce Harper will hope to take the Home Run Derby crown on Monday night.

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