Here is how the Nats can make the playoffs:
The team is 6.5 games back with 36 games to go. But they have 6 head-to-head games against the Mets, including the final 3 of the year October 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. If the Nats can make up 3.5 games between now and the 2nd of October, they will have the opportunity to win their way into the playoffs by taking 4 straight from New York – the final 3 games of the regular reason and then the tiebreaker game.
Okay, so not great, but bear with me.
The next week in a half is critical. Nats have 10 against the Marlins, Cards, Braves and the Mets have 9 against the Red Sox, Marlins, and Phillies before the Mets come to Nats Park on Labor Day for the first of two 3-games series.
The Mets will at worst go 6-3, probably 7-2 if not better, which means the Nats will probably have to go 8-2 (or even 9-1) to make up ground. So they can lose one to the Cards and then one of the other 9 games. Maybe. They *could* be 5 back going into the Labor Day series. Win the series and they are 4 back – only a game away from the number that keeps them alive – 3. Then they just have to pick up one game on the Mets over the next 21 games to get the equivalent of being down 3-0 in a 7-game series. (They’d have to be only 1 back to not have to sweep the series to force the tiebreaker.)
That’s a very difficult scenario for a pretty slim chance at the playoffs, but it’s not nothing.
Consider the last 9 games: the Nats have gone 7-3 with a run differential of +14 but lost a game in the standings because the Mets went 8-2, outscoring their opponents by 23. It could be worse. The new batch of injuries doesn’t help, but now Matt Williams is out of excuses not to play Danny Espinosa and Trea Turner. We’ll see if those of us who have been calling for more of them are right. Rendon and Strasburg are finally alive and kicking and Bryce keeps doing Bryce, so who knows.
In summation, for the Nats the make the playoffs they need to pick up a game and a half before Labor Day then go at least 5-1 against the Mets. Even then, they still have to make up another game during September just to get the chance to win four straight to win the Division.
Possible. Maybe not.
But it’s enough to postpone the season autopsies. For now.
Baby steps to Labor Day. And remember – this is the fun part.
“Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”