Aug 9, 2010, 2:20 PM EST
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Michael Morse at last has a chance to take advantage of regular playing time.
These are officially the dog days of summer now, with the temperature holding steady in the upper 90s and the local ballclub definitively out of time to climb back into contention.
It's easy to look at the standings and the time of year and say the Nationals have nothing left to do but play out the string, but that's not really accurate. They may have little to play for in the standings at this point, but they've got plenty of things they still need to accomplish over the season's final eight weeks.
Just about every player on the roster needs to show something before season's end, whether establishing his case to be an everyday player, establishing his case to be in next year's rotation or establishing his case to be paid a lot of money this winter. From a team standpoint, the Nats need to use the final third of the season to determine whether certain guys should be everyday players, whether certain pitchers should be in next year's rotation and whether certain guys should be paid a lot of money this winter.
So, as the Nationals sleep in this morning following a late-night flight home from the west coast and rest up in advance of this week's homestand, let's look at five players who have the most to gain (or lose) based on their performance over the remainder of the season…
1. STEPHEN STRASBURG
In one respect, you could say there's nothing Strasburg stands to gain from pitching the rest of the season. Over his nine starts in June and July, he pretty much established that he's going to be a premier pitcher in the majors … if healthy. And that last point, of course, is the key. The Nationals need to find out if he really is healthy or whether the shoulder tightness that landed him on the DL the last twoRead more »
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