The Washington Nationals activated star outfielder Juan Soto on Tuesday ahead of a three-game set against the Atlanta Braves. Soto, who has not played since April 19 because of a strained left shoulder, is not in the Washington lineup for the series opener, though.
Soto had gotten off to a tremendous start prior to being placed on the injured list, hitting .300/.410/.460 with two home runs and three more walks than strikeouts in his first 61 plate appearances during the 2021 season.
The Nationals, now 12-12, were 5-9 when Soto was placed on the shelf. Washington went 7-3 during their franchise player's absence while leaning heavily on Yadiel Hernández, a 33-year-old rookie, to replace Soto in the lineup and in right field. Hernández, to his credit, batted a Soto-esque .367/.444/.500 in 36 plate appearances.
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While Soto's activation is the most notable move the Nationals made, Harris' shouldn't be overlooked, either. He's yet to pitch this season after being sidelined during spring training with a suspected blood clot. A venogram conducted in late March revealed that Harris did not have a blood clot, nor was he dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome, a potentially devastating diagnosis for pitchers.
The Nationals will enter play on Tuesday with a half-game lead over both the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. The Nationals also have a two-game lead over the Braves, and a 2 1/2-game lead over the last-place Miami Marlins. Oddly enough, the Marlins are the only team in the division with a positive run differential, a measure that tends to hold more predictive value in small samples than a team's won-lost record.