Werth's heating up, Harper's timing still a work in progress

On Saturday, after ripping two doubles and walking twice in a 7-1 Nationals win over the Rockies, Jayson Werth said that he felt like he was back on track.

He noted that he's a feel guy at the plate, and credited a long foul ball in his first at-bat in that game as the moment that his swing clicked again after a stretch where he had been "grinding" at the plate.

Well, it appears Werth is right. He does look to be back on track.

In his last three games, Werth is 6-for-10 with two homers, three doubles, six RBIs and three walks.

That's five extra-base hits in a three-game stretch, this after Werth went the entire month of June with just six extra-base hits to his name.

His batting average had jumped back up 10 points in these three games to .276, and he's again looking like a major force in the middle of the Nats batting order. The key has been that Werth is now standing more upright at the plate, something that he's been working on recently with hitting coach Rick Schu.

"Just staying on top of the ball a little more," manager Matt Williams said after yesterday's game, "Saw it on the homer to his pull side (in the first inning on Friday). (In the eighth, Pedro) Strop threw him a good fastball up and away and he was able to line it to right. That just means he's on top of the ball. The adjustment of standing up a little bit, taking a little different angle to the baseball has helped."

Bryce Harper, meanwhile, still appears to be working on his timing a bit as he comes back from more than two months on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his left thumb.

In his four games back off the DL, Harper is 3-for-15 with six strikeouts and an intentional walk. He does have a double in there, although that was a hustle double that came on a bloop behind third base.

"He's a little jumpy," Williams said yesterday. "He's jumping at it a little bit. That long a layoff, it's a long time, so it takes some time to get back into the swing of it. He looks a little jumpy to me. Not quite seeing it as well as he can."

Harper did face three left-handed starters in the series against the Rockies, which doesn't exactly make for the easiest transition back to big league ball. Williams moved his 21-year-old outfielder up to the No. 2 spot in the order yesterday, sliding Anthony Rendon down to sixth in the lineup.

It'll be interesting to see whether Harper remains toward the top of the order today.

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