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Brian Goodwin and Michael Taylor would form a formidable center field platoon for the Washington Nationals

Michael Taylor is close to returning from the disabled list, but rookie Brian Goodwin has made a good case for continued playing time once he’s back.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Neither Michael Taylor nor Brian Goodwin was supposed to be a starting outfielder for the Washington Nationals this season, but it’s Aug. 11 and they’ve both played in 72 games. That’s a higher total than both Jayson Werth and Adam Eaton combined, which speaks to how valuable the young outfielders have been to the Nats so far this year.

Taylor, who’s expected to return next week from an oblique injury, is hitting .278/.320/.510 with 12 home runs, 16 doubles, 35 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 16 walks and 81 strikeouts. He was in the midst of a career year before getting hurt, boasting career highs in all three slash line categories.

Washington recalled Goodwin from Triple-A Syracuse in May for added bench depth, but he’s taken advantage of the playing time. Goodwin’s posted a .248/.312/.504 line with 13 homers, 21 doubles, 30 RBIs, five stolen bases, 23 walks and 68 strikeouts.

With the duo now having played the same amount of games this season, it’s the perfect time to examine what Baker should do with them once they’re both on the active roster together again. Taylor has more experience and holds the slight edge by the numbers, but Goodwin has thrived at the top of the lineup whereas Taylor struggled there last year.

Oddly enough, both players have had an at-bat in 68 games against right-handers and 25 versus lefties. Both own much better numbers against southpaws. Taylor has an .796 OPS against righties and .976 against lefties, while Goodwin, a lefty himself, owns a .775 OPS against right-handers and 1.001 OPS against left-handers.

As Taylor holds the edge against righties and Goodwin is doing the same versus lefties, it appears Baker has his work cut out for him. Trea Turner and Werth are still rehabbing from their respective injuries, leaving plenty of room for Baker to shuffle his players around in the lineup. Taylor would be able to bat near the bottom of the order while Goodwin can still hit first or second.

The playoffs are less than two months away, and a team that supposedly entered the season with depth issues has seen impressive production out of its bench players.

Obviously, both Taylor and Goodwin will be able to play every day until Werth returns, but both players have earned the right to see extended playing time down the stretch even when the Nats’ stars are healthy.