Leftover notes and observations from the Nats' 8-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon…
Espinosa is coming around: Danny Espinosa had the best month of his career in June and carried that over into the first few days of July to win NL Player of the Week award along the way. Through the heart of July, however, he fell into a deep slump, hitting just .107/.206/161 with 27 strikeouts in 16 games from July 6 to July 27. That stretch had some wondering how much time he had bought himself by simply having one really good month, given the presence of Trea Turner and the Nats' apparent need for more offense.
To Espinosa's credit, he has recently been much better. Over his last seven games - from July 28 to Aug. 3 - he has six hits, two doubles, four RBI, four runs and four walks. He has held a .379 OBP. The Nats don't need much more than that from him, especially if he is playing his usually solid defense at shortstop.
Harper doubles: Bryce Harper returned to the Nats lineup after missing Tuesday's game with an illness and came through with a double, just his third extra base hit in his last 20 games. It was also just his 13th double of the season, which puts him just three ahead of Michael Taylor and one behind Ryan Zimmerman.
Harper's double was just one hit in five at-bats for the reigning MVP, who hasn't had a multi-hit game since July 7. It was, however, Harper's third straight game with a hit and over his last six outings he's reached base 11 total times.
Harper also made some pretty loud outs on Wednesday. Both of his flyouts in the third and sixth inning were to deep center field. This all came on the heels of Monday's win when he reached base three times and scored three runs. Harper isn't anywhere near his MVP form, but he's still making an impact in the Nats' lineup. He just can't seem to find consistency.
Difo and Severino produce: Both Wilmer Difo and Pedro Severino had been struggling offensively in the minors before the Nats brought them up as injury replacements during their road trip, but both stepped in with important contributions at the plate. Difo reached base twice in Wednesday's win to cap an impressive series where he went 5-for-10 with a double, three RBI and three runs. He is 6-for-14 overall this season with two doubles in five games. Severino went 2-for-3 with a walk on Wednesday and 3-for-8 overall on the road trip. Both players are known for their defense and fared well in the field, as well.
Difo, in particular, is interesting because his stock had previously fallen as a prospect. He had a breakout year in Single-A in 2014 with a .315 average, 14 homers, 90 RBI and 49 steals. But in the two years since has hit just .276 in Single- and Double-A. His power numbers have also vanished, as he holds just a .663 OPS this year with the Harrisburg Senators. This last week, however, has reminded us of his talent and proven that he can at the very least help the Nats out in a pinch if they need a middle infielder.
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