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Bryce Harper has quietly gone on a hot streak

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Much was made of Bryce Harper‘s lackluster — by his standards — first half. After a torrid April, Harper hit just .221 with a .293 on-base percentage in May, then followed that up with a .188/.333/.341 June. He went into the All-Star break with an .833 OPS which is good for most hitters, but pedestrian by Harper’s own standards. Many eyes were carefully watching Harper’s stats as the superstar is a free agent after the season and is expected to cash in with a very lucrative contract.

Harper won the Home Run Derby in dramatic fashion and has been hitting the cover off of the ball in 16 games since the break. Entering Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Braves, Harper batted .367/.484/.673 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 62 plate appearances. In five August games, Harper accrued multiple hits in four of them. He stayed hot in the first game of the doubleheader, going 2-for-5 with a solo home run and an RBI single in the Nationals’ 8-3 win.

The Nationals limped into the All-Star break below .500 at 47-48. Though the team didn’t go into an official sell-off mode, GM Mike Rizzo let other teams know he would listen to trade offers for Harper. The Nats have gone 10-6 in the second half thus far and sit only five games back of the first-place Phillies and 3.5 games behind the second-place Braves. If Harper can keep hitting well, he could propel the Nats, the preseason favorites in the division, into first place.

Braves shutting down Mike Soroka for 4-5 days due to shoulder problems

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Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Braves starter Mike Soroka will be shut down for the next 4-5 days due to renewed soreness in his right shoulder.

Soroka is not presently listed in the top five of the Braves depth chart at starter, but is nonetheless an enormously talented pitcher who, at some point this season, was likely to figure into their plans. He was supposed to figure in more largely than he did last season, but after an impressive debut he missed the entire second half with shoulder problems, making only five starts.

There will no doubt be a reevaluation of him in the next few days, but this is could bad news for the Braves’ pitching depth.