What do the Nats need to do to make the playoffs?
To win the Division : let's say, for the moment, 96 games (the Braves are on 100 win pace right now but to beat that the Nats would have to play like the best team ever here on out. Let's give the Nats a reachable goal here) To get to 96 the Nats would have to win 65 more games in the next 100, or a 105 win pace. That's a tall order. It can be done sure, but there basically can't be a bad two-week period. One single more .500 level month would likely do this dream in.
To win a WC based on last year / history : 89 would have done it last year and history tells us that that number is a virtual lock in all but the rarest years. That's another 58 wins, or a 94 win pace. Basically the Nats would have to play as well as they did last year (without the smidge of luck they had in close games) for the rest of the season. We know it's possible. They did it over 162 just last year. But you see that it's a high hurdle here as well.
To win a WC based on current projections : Uh oh. Here's where the big problem lies. To win the WC right now based on current projections the Nats would need... 96 wins. That's how much we said they needed to maybe win the division and then we said that was pretty close to over with. Here are the current paces of the playoff teams ahead of the Nats so far.
Cards : 105 wins
Braves : 100 wins
D-backs : 90 wins
Cincy : 95 wins
Pirates : 95 wins
Giants : 86 wins
Rockies : 86 wins
Can these teams keep it up? Well with Ryan Braun likely about to be suspended for a huge chunk of the season the bottom of the NL Central is terrible. I'm not sure that I'd expect 3 teams to win 95 games in the same division but they don't have to necessarily cool down. Really what this means is that hosting a WC looks like as daunting a task as winning the division. The Cards are so far ahead you can't see them finishing outside of the 90s in wins, and if one of the Pirates and Reds falter to give the Nats an easier path to the WC well then the other one is likely the beneficiary of that and is continuing to win a bunch of games.
On the plus side the NL West does not look to be a big impediment to the Nats, or at least it shouldn't be if the Nats are serious about making the playoffs. Here's the fun thing then. The Nats play the Rockies 7 times in the next 13 games. The best thing the Nats could do is crush those Rockies, knocking them as far from contention as possible while helping their own cause. They don't get the same chance with anyone else in front of them before the trade deadline (they play ARI 3 times and the Pirates 4 times, but catch PIT at the very end of July when they may have already made some moves) In the next two+ weeks they have an opportunity to knock a team out of the game, right before they may start thinking about adding players to get better. They need to do that.
Other quick thoughts :
On Rendon for Espy : Espinosa needed to go. He needs to have surgery. I hope he realizes that a healthy Espy is not the loser in a situation with Rendon called up and hitting well. No the loser is either an asking for way too much Desmond, or more likely 2015 LaRoche. This is a defensive minded team. If Espy get healthy and hits like he can they'll be a place for him and his "not a FA until 2017" butt on this squad
On Marrero for Moore : About damn time. Marrero also gives the Nats very little. He's not a plus defender. He's got no speed and little patience. But he can hit for some pop and he makes better contact. Moore needed to go. He hadn't hit well in months, including last year. Chris was the obvious choice to fill that bench spot.
On Cristian Garcia being injured : TOLD YOU. Please. If this guy completes more than one season as a major league starter before he's done I'll be shocked.
On Bryce Harper's knee stuff : They need Bryce. They do not win enough games to make the playoffs without him. That's it.