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The Nationals are hurting once again as Denard Span hits the DL

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Just a few days ago, the Nationals finally got healthy and had their full lineup as it was intended on the field. All the players who have missed time this year -- Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Yunel Escobar, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman -- were all where they were supposed to be for the first time all season long. That might not happen again in 2015, though, as Span has now returned to the disabled list, this time for hip inflammation that could keep him out for the season.

The Nats couldn't afford this injury. They are 6.5 games back of the Mets in the NL East, and at nine games back are effectively out of the wild card race barring a miracle. They are just 64-62, barely hanging on to .500, but with Span such a good hitter these past two seasons and a positive defensive presence for Washington, a healthy return would have at least made a late-season run plausible. Instead, Span returned from a back injury that cost him 40 games and the Nationals a few wins along the way only to injure his hip.

Span's impact isn't being exaggerated, by the way. Werth is having one of the worst seasons of any regular in baseball at .199/.279/.296, and if Span were around, manager Matt Williams might have been tempted to bench Werth. Instead, he's played in 54 games, rates at two wins below replacement level, and is far more of a problem than a solution. With the Mets looking as good as they ever have in 2015, and the Pirates and Cubs running away with the Wild Card spots, Span's latest injury just might be the sign that the season is officially lost for the pre-season favorites. They've still got a month of Bryce Harper and that rotation left to prove otherwise, but it's going to be a harder month without Span.