Liz Barr: Taylor has earned his way back into Nats lineup

Michael A. Taylor has been absolutely on fire of late. The man who was once under the Mendoza line has raised his batting average almost forty points in just over two weeks. It’s phenomenal what Taylor has been able to do this month.

At the beginning of June, Taylor was hitting just .204 and struggling mightily in just about every aspect offensively. But since the calendar turned, Taylor has become a new hitter. This month, in 14 games (nine starts), Taylor has hit a sizzling .429, scored seven runs, driven in six, walked eight times, hit a home run and three doubles, and has stolen eight bases. It’s really remarkable, and to say that Taylor is feeling it and has found his stroke is a dramatic understatement.

Taylor is doing it all: he’s driving in runs, scoring them himself, creating havoc on the bases and cutting down on his strikeouts. He also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games, as well. The man is getting on base, and that is what the Nationals so desperately need. The team may be hitting a little bit of a rough patch, but Taylor is hitting his stride.

Thus we come to the ultimate point: Taylor needs to be in the lineup.

Adam Eaton is back (and producing), and Juan Soto is hitting like a bonafide veteran, so the Nationals have a bit of an outfield conundrum. As a result, Taylor has gotten a couple of games off. Ultimately, everyone is going to share time, so I’m not that worried, but how can you sit Taylor when he’s hitting like this? On Tuesday night, Taylor came in to pinch-hit and both drove in and scored very important runs to help win the game. He’s doing it all out there, and we’re not even talking about his Gold Glove-caliber defense. Looking at his production recently and continuing to sit him seems silly.

Taylor has played in a majority of the team’s games this season, so he deserves a few games off now that there’s a little more outfield depth. But ultimately, he needs to be in there. And for right now, I think Bryce Harper needs a game or two off. He has simply not been feeling it, and he has struggled greatly. I don’t know what happened, but Harper’s average has dipped down to .213, which is extremely abnormal for the former MVP, who has been having trouble getting hits to fall and putting the ball into play. It will probably be difficult for him to not be out there, but I think he needs a few days to try to find and collect himself. Maybe a breather is what he needs, and in the meantime, put out Taylor to tear up the diamond. He’s earned himself a bit more time with the way he’s been playing recently.

The way Taylor has turned his season around is inspiring. The league’s leader in stolen bases has made his presence impactful. The average that was once as low as .120 is now .239, and it could easily be up to a comfortable .260 or .270 in a matter of weeks if Taylor keeps on this pace. Whether or not this fire stays hot is yet to be seen, but it can only improve if Taylor remains in the lineup and keeps consistently getting at-bats, which he has earned at this point.

Liz Barr blogs about the Nationals for The Nats Blog. Follow her on Twitter: @RaiseTheBarr1. Her opinions on the Nationals will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s 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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