3 players Nationals need more from in second half of season

Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals bats against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at Oracle Park on July 09, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals bats against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at Oracle Park on July 09, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The Nationals need Juan Soto to find his hitting stroke in the second half.
Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals bats against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at Oracle Park on July 09, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

After getting swept out of San Francisco, the Washington Nationals will limp into the All-Star break. Literally and figuratively. With a record of 42-47, the Nationals are just six games behind the division leading New York Mets. If not for a rash of injuries, the boys from DC could be leading what has turned out to be a weak National League Eastern Division.

With the extra days rest the Nationals hope to get healthy. As it stands now, too many key contributors are sitting on the Injured List. From stars like Stephen Strasburg and Kyle Schwarber to essential pieces of the bullpen in Tanner Rainey and Will Harris to necessary pieces of the lineup like Yan Gomes and Joe Ross, the Nationals need to get healthy first and foremost.

Along with getting back to full strength, the Nationals need some specific players to do some more of the heavy lifting. With the Wild Card berths most likely coming out of the West Division, the Nationals need to zero in on the Mets.

There is plenty of time to catch them, though the turnaround needs to start with the six-game home stand when teams get back to play.

3 players who need to contribute more in the second half of the season, for the Nationals to be competitive.

Juan Soto

Didn’t we anoint the Washington Nationals, Juan Soto‘s team? Hadn’t we decided to pass the torch of “face of the franchise” from Ryan Zimmerman to Childish Bambino? I think the answer to both of those questions is yes. Someone forgot to tell Trea Turner. Both players were hitting fiends last year. Only Trea has kept it up thus far this year.

Yes, Soto made the All-Star team. However, he is fourth on the team in home runs, seventh in doubles, and is hitting .283 on the year. He has a good OPS, on the strength of a lot of walks. It’s not Soto’s fault he can’t get good pitches to hit, but when he does, he isn’t doing anything with them.

He leads the Majors in times grounded into a double play. He has a .518 OPS in “close and late” situations and a .167 batting average in high leverage situations.

Soto continues to rocket the ball…….around the infield. We continue to say, once he gets his launch angle figured out and starts hitting the ball in the air, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Needs to happen soon.

True, he is second on the team in WAR at 2.4, though he needs to step it up big time in the second half for the Nationals to be competitive.

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