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 for Tanner Rainey to get healthy.
Tanner Rainey #21 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on June 27, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Tanner Rainey

What happened to Tanner Rainey? He’s injured now, with a stress reaction to the right tibia, though was this causing his issues before he went on the Injured List?

After being acquired in an offseason trade from the Cincinnati Reds, Rainey quickly earned the trust of manager Davey Martinez. Rainey pitched well during the Nationals run to the World Series in ’19 and even better in the pandemic shortened season of 2020. He had a K/9 of 14 and an ERA of 2.66, leading some to believe he may battle for the closer role in spring training.

Then the Nationals signed Brad Hand. No problem, the Nationals would pair Rainey with Daniel Hudson for a seventh-eighth inning bridge to Hand.

From day one, when Rainey gave up two earned runs, he has struggled to contribute in a positive way. He’s had stretches where he’s given up too many hits. He’s had stretches where he has struggled with control. He’s had stretches where the Nationals have used him when they shouldn’t have.

Prior to landing on the Injured List, Rainey was starting to figure it out. He had scoreless outings in nine of his last ten appearances, lowering his ERA from 10.57 to 6.93.

Every night Nationals hitters need to get 27 outs to walk away winners. Counting on Rainey to get three of them without giving up any runs, is a necessity. While there is no timetable for his return, when he does get back, the Nationals are counting on him to regain his pre-2021 form.

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