Optimism abounds in Nationals’ clubhouse at midpoint

Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have combined for a 2.65 ERA this season while averaging almost seven innings per start. Since April ended, that number is at 2.27.

Still, the Nationals have not been three games above the .500 mark since the middle of May. They acknowledge the need to go through a stretch in which they run off far more wins than losses — to that end they’ve won 8 of their past 12 — but they also need to actually do it.

“You’ve got to play good enough to win,” Werth said. “We do have that ability. We proved it last year. We’re a little bit different team, but we’ve got for the most part the same guys. And if we would start playing well, I think everybody else would see it, too. But that is yet to be seen, so right now, it’s just a belief.”

Added Johnson: “I always look at it as things happen for the best. As hard as it was to go through those times when we’d score no runs or one or two runs, I think that can build character. Going into the second half, I think everybody in [the clubhouse] feels we’ve got a lot of picking up to do. That’s the good thing. I feel good about that.”

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