It wasn’t going to be easy.
For the first quarter of the season, it looked like the 2013 Washington Nationals: injuries, no runs with runners in scoring position, manager issues. At one point, the Nats were under .500 and it looked like Atlanta was going to runaway again.
Then, Fister debut in May, Zimmerman came back and is now a super utility player, Ramos returning, and Harper returning has the Nats virtually with Atlanta for the NL East lead.
Let’s focus on two things. The first is Matt Williams. At times, Williams can be authoritative. Look at the Bryce Harper situation, when he didn’t hustle to first base, Williams benched him and started a million rumors about their relationship. Also, Williams can be question about his strategy. However, there’s no question the players have responded to Williams and with a full lineup, let’s see how Williams handles the second half.
The second part is the health of the team. Before June, only one time the lineup was at full strength: opening day. Now, the Nationals have the second half of the season to see if this lineup comes to fruition. What you can say is the Nats bench is much better than last year, and still have rooms of improvement via trade and waivers.
Last year at this time, the Nats were playing catchup with Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. This year, they’re in the mix in not only the NL East, but the postseason race. We will see how they will respond.