Rachel Levitin: Will Zimmerman's injury put a strain on Nats?

The unfortunate bout of luck that befell a hustling Ryan Zimmerman is sure to put a slight strain on the post-All-Star break Nationals. A strained right hamstring is Zimmerman's injury and the Nats will now press onward, hoping that this setback is nothing more than a minor one.

There is good news, though: The Nats sit in first place among their National League East brethren and lead Atlanta by two games. Washington has won four straight games, which is a nice tone to set while the final summer push is under way.

Offense seems to be popping as of late. Adam LaRoche is coming back from a slump, Bryce Harper is slowly but surely starting to make his presence felt, Jayson Werth continues to make waves and Ian Desmond's strong season forges onward.

It still quite a shocker to think that this team comprised of notable performances - especially in the bullpen - had only one All-Star, but I think that might just be a part of the recipe for continued success during the 2014 season.

I've never been a big fan of the All-Star Game, though I see its appeal as a fan-friendly exhibition game that just so happens to have stakes within the confines of Major League Baseball. What I will say is that I think a good team with little representation or recognition during the All-Star Game is automatically counted as being an underdog moving forward in the season. That logic may not gel in everybody's minds, but it's a logic that makes sense inside my head.

I'm not sure I'd call one of the top teams in the standings an underdog, but that's just the thing: The Nats are not the team making big splashes in the news around the league in a notable fashion like Oakland, with its recent trades, or the Yankees, due to Derek Jeter's final season. With major players like Zimmerman and Harper out for a decent chunk of the early season, I feel like the majority of folks zoned out on Washington baseball because they names they knew best (even with Stephen Strasburg in the rotation all year) were down for the count at the moment.

That's why, even with Zimmerman's hamstring strain, I think the second half of the season will prove to be an underdog story of sorts for the Nats. The story's already in motion. Let's see what happens next.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC. Follow her on Twitter: @RHLevitin. She will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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