SAN DIEGO -- When the Nationals began the season, they intended on using Michael Taylor as their fourth outfielder, before an Opening Day injury to Ben Revere forced Taylor into the lineup every day. Taylor struggled, hitting .186 when Revere returned from the DL, and Taylor resumed his reserve role at the beginning of May.
But since then, Taylor has been one of the Nationals' most productive players. He went 4-for-4 with a pair of solo homers in Sunday afternoon's 6-3 loss to the Padres. It was his first career multihomer game, and he matched a career high with his four hits. He attributed his success Sunday to being selective, although he is naturally an aggressive hitter.
"Selective is making sure I see the ball before I commit or try to be too aggressive," Taylor said. "Find a good pitch to hit and be aggressive at the same time."
Taylor has hit safely in 17 consecutive starts since May 3, and is batting .333 (24-for-72) with seven doubles, three home runs and seven RBIs during that span. His slash line sits at .243/.279/.402 with six homers and 10 stolen bases.
"I think it has something to do with sometime you have to hit rock bottom at some point in time before you start regrouping and start rebuilding," manager Dusty Baker said. "He's in the process of rebuilding."
Taylor said he still arrives to the ballpark each day and prepares as if he is going to start, and that approach has helped him have success when his name is called. Baker has played Taylor primarily against left-handers recently, although he has been reluctant to use the word "platoon" and reiterated that there is no debate regarding his starting center fielder.
The Nationals are scheduled to face three consecutive lefties in a three-game series with the Dodgers, and while Baker committed to starting Taylor on Monday night against Clayton Kershaw, he did not commit any further.
"I don't want to leave Ben on the bench too long, he's just getting himself together," Baker said. "There's no controversy, but as a team we're going to go with who we think is best on that particular day."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.