The Nationals are in a unique position as a franchise as a first-place team that also boasts a farm system rife with top prospects. It's an enviable spot and it's allowed the Nationals to introduce a wave of young talent this season as veterans have missed time due to injuries.
Lately, it's been Ryan Zimmerman, Jose Lobaton, Joe Ross and Bryce Harper who have given way to prospects to play in their place. Trea Turner has filled in both in the infield and outfield with Zimmerman and Harper out. Pedro Severino has made a few starts with Lobaton on the mend. And Reynaldo Lopez has now made three starts in the place of Ross.
All three - Turner, Severino and Lopez - came through on Saturday night to help lead the Nats to a 7-6 victory over the Braves. Turner fell just short of a cycle with a homer, a triple and three runs scored. Severino had two hits and helped Lopez pitch seven strong innings of one-run ball.
Many rebuilding teams would like to have that type of production come from young players who represent the future of their franchise. For the Nats, it's almost an embarrassment of riches.
"They bring energy. They’re focused," second baseman Daniel Murphy said. “I think it speaks to the talent in this organization. Trea... he’s been so fun to watch. He’s been up here for 20, 25 games. He’s impacted every single one of them in a positive way."
Turner and Lopez had the best games of their careers on Saturday night. For Severino, it was the second straight game he's had two hits.
On Saturday, those contributions were needed. But for the most part this season, the young talent has been a bonus for the Nationals. Turner explained how that has perhaps helped the rookies transition to the big leagues.
"I think it's a little more relaxing. I think we have a lot of good bats in the lineup, so you don't feel like you have to do everything there," he said.
"The same thing when you're on the mound. I feel like we play pretty good defense, pretty solid defense. That way you can just throw strikes and let them put the ball in play, not try to strike everybody out. That combination where you can relax and trust yourself and trust your teammates, I think that makes it easier for us to win and win consistently."
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