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Washington Nationals second-half preview: Rotation key to success

Verducci's Quick Pitch: Washington Nationals

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci previews the second half of the MLB season for the Washington Nationals.

Washington Nationals

Record: 51-42

Standing: 1st in NL East

Team Leaders:

Batting Average: Anthony Rendon, .287

Home Runs: Ian Desmond, 16

ERA: Tanner Roark, 3.01

For the second straight season, the Nationals haven't played up to their potential. But due to mediocre play throughout the rest of the NL East, Washington is still in the thick of the playoff race. Tanner Roark and Anthony Rendon's breakout seasons have kept the Nationals in first place, despite down years from Stephen Strasburg and the oft-injured Bryce Harper.

The Nationals haven't been involved in many trade rumors approaching the the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. However, with a healthy Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, the team is poised to make its second playoff run in three years.

- Evan Webeck

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