FBB On MASN: Nationals' Top 5 Second-Half Storylines

USA TODAY Sports

For this week's post over at MASNSports.com, we took a look at the Top 5 Storylines for the Washington Nationals in the second half of the 2013 season. No.3 is included below: What will Dan Haren give the Nats going forward? Read the other four storylines over at MASN.

[ed. note - "Every Friday morning throughout this season, hopefully, if they'll continue to have me, I'll be writing a post over at MASNSports.com's Nationals Buzz, "... as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest," writers to their site. All opinions expressed are my own... A sample follows... You can read the entire post HERE or through the link included below."]:

3. Dan Haren: Haren struggled with back issues last season with the Angels. He went on the DL at the All-Star break for the first time in his 10-year major league career, but returned to the mound in the second half of the season and looked more like the Haren of old throughout the rest of 2012. When he signed with the Nationals for one year and $13 million, he assured reporters that concerns about his health were overblown.

"He did what we expect our five starter to do. He gave us a chance to win the ballgame. And that's all we're looking for from our starting pitchers..." - Mike Rizzo on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. on Dan Haren

He said he thought he'd have gotten a multi-year deal on the market if not for the reports that his hip and back were an issue. Then he struggled throughout the first half of the 2013 campaign and found himself on the DL for the second time in his career.

Haren had a cortisone shot in his shoulder and returned to the mound before the break to make two starts in which the Nationals were impressed with what they saw. Impressed enough to stick with the 32-year-old, 11-year veteran?

With two weeks before the non-waiver trade deadline, will the Nationals stand pat with the rotation they have or will the try to find another starter to bolster the back of the rotation? Nats general manager Mike Rizzo said recently that Haren gave the Nationals a chance to win each of his post-DL stint starts and provided exactly what the Nationals wanted out of a fourth or fifth starter.

Having Haren return from the DL for a second straight summer and pitch more like the Haren of old is a nice narrative. Can the Nationals count on the right-hander as they attempt to catch the Braves or at least make a run at one of the wild card spots?

• Read the entire Top 5 Storylines list over at MASNSports.com:

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