Rendon's bat is already helping the Nats via USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Admit that you were pretty pumped up when the Nationals won both games of their doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. It was Washington's first back-to-back wins since May 24th and their 12 total runs on Sunday felt like a breath of fresh air after being cooped up inside a dingy basement.
Sitting at 31-31 on June 10th with exactly 100 games to play, the Nationals actually have a few things to smile about.
1) Second baseman Anthony Rendon is here to stay
Gone are the days of the automatic out, Danny Espinosa. If general manager Mike Rizzo's quote about the best 25-men staying on the roster is accurate, the Nationals have found their second baseman of the future. After his first cup of coffee in the majors in April, Rendon is beginning to not only look comfortable in the batters box, he's hitting the baseball! What a change of pace! In his last four games he's 6-for-16, with three doubles and three RBI. My favorite Rendon statistic thus far is that all four of his RBI have come with two outs and runners in scoring position. The Nationals are desperately in need of a spark plug at the bottom of the lineup and it seems Rendon has all the capabilities of quickly becoming that guy.
2) The bullpen has been quietly on fire
Drew Storen hasn't allowed a run in his last seven appearances. Rafael Soriano's ERA (2.52) is as low as its been since May 9th. Newcomer Ian Krol, a much needed southpaw acquired in the Michael Morse trade, has been nearly flawless in his three appearances -- albeit against the Mets and Twins. A month ago the bullpen's production was less reliable than the offense. All of a sudden it's become a strength and a catalyst for some recent wins.
3) Ian Desmond is the Nationals second best player
May was a mostly fruitless month for Desi (.220/.273/.370). June has been a whole different animal. The shortstop is in the midst of a 12-game hitting streak and is leading the team in total bases with 110 -- LaRoche is in second place with 91. He's tied for second in the NL in doubles. The most telling Desmond stat? He's only grounded into three double plays this season, as opposed to 17 a season ago. This isn't the all-star type of year the 27-year-old posted in 2012. Still, Desmond has been the most reliable healthy bat in a perplexing few months of baseall.
4) June's schedule is quite favorable
Following a trip to Coors Field, the Nats will travel to Cleveland to face the Indians, hoping to sharpen their already gaudy 7-1 AL Central record. Then a trip to Citizens Bank Park will prove to be a 'put up, or shut up' series against the Phillies. The Rockies and Diamondbacks are the only teams on the June slate with records above .500, and both are beatable.
5) All signs are pointing to Bryce Harper's return Tuesday in Colorado
When Harper is 100 percent healthy and on his game, he's the most feared left-handed hitter in the National League. Harper mashes home runs but he also alters how starting pitchers throw to the rest of the lineup. The Nationals hold a 6-12 record without their best player and will need him healthy soon if they hope to tip over the .500 mark for good.