Of all the injured Nationals hitters who have had an impact on the season, Ryan Zimmerman’s return from his left foot plantar fasciitis has been the most encouraging. While slow returns by Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon dragged on the offense, Zimmerman found his rhythm quicker, capped by his best month yet in August.

With a three-run home run that nearly saved the day in Monday’s loss to St. Louis, Zimmerman finished August with a .277/.357/.585 slash line. He smashed seven home runs — four in the past seven games — and notched 28 RBI, tying a team record for a single month. Ian Desmond (June 2013) and Bryce Harper (May 2015) have also hit that mark.

“Just good timing and good rhythm up there,” Manager Matt Williams said. “… He swinging good, seeing the ball well.”

Since his return, Zimmerman is hitting .275 with a .944 OPS. He has raised his season average from .209 to .231 and season OPS from .611 to .726. Those marks could be higher if Zimmerman had encountered better luck; his batting average with balls in play is at a career low despite some statistics showing he is hitting the ball just as hard as past seasons.

While the numbers are still below his career norms, Zimmerman has another month to further dig himself out of his early season struggles. He has proved to be a potent bat in the lineup behind Bryce Harper, who has seen fewer hittable pitches in the strike zone. He has looked more like the 20-homer, 80-plus-RBI Zimmerman of the past.

“I’m just getting back into the groove,” he said. “It’s nice to be healthy and be able to play every day and get at-bats. It’s hard being in and out and off the DL and things like that. Now that I’ve been back for a while, it’s nice to kind of get into that groove and be able to play every day. Just continue to do what I’m doing.”

The Nationals’ odds of catching the Mets are long. But the offense has picked up over the last few weeks, largely thanks to Zimmerman, and improvements from Desmond, Werth and Rendon. The Nationals scored 135 runs in August, tied for the fourth-most in the National League. Now, they need to improve their pitching.