OK, not really. I stand by my "season over" call, much like I stood by my call of the Nats taking the NL East on September 5th of last year. As any reasoned mind will tell you it's still a super long shot that the Nats will make the playoffs* The thing is, if you're like me and think the Nats will finish in the 85-86 win range (I've upped it from 84-85 given the recent good play) they were bound to pick up games on whoever WC#2 would be. They'd probably only finish 2-3-4 games out. But like I said before, we have all offseason to talk about what the hell went wrong this year. If we can delay that for another few days with talk of magical playoff runs, why not? It's fun, right?
*Cool Standings likes the Nats the best at a super high 2.8%. Fangraphs, which everyone was pointing at before shouting "They like us! They're the smartest! They understand upcoming strength of schedule!" proves it understands SOS all right by keeping the Nats down at 1.8% as the Nats play half their remaning games against good to very good teams
Jayson Werth mentions that he did it in 2007 and he's right. In 2007, the Phillies erased a 7 game lead in the final 17 games to win the NL East. The double miracle, where the Phils went 13-4 and the Mets went 5-12, happened. So what was the circumstances behind that?
First off you had an exceedingly mediocre NL that year. The best team in the NL won a mere 90 games that year. With that being the way it was the Phillies didn't have any big obstacles to going on a winning streak. They got to play the Nats 7 times, along with a mediocre Cardinals team (78 wins) and an average Braves team (78). The Mets would also play an easy schedule but couldn't take advantage of it, losing 5 of 6 to the Nationals. Second, they did play eachother to end the year and yes, the Phillies swept the Mets. Third, at the time the Phillies were slightly underperforming according to their Pythag expecations and the Mets were WAY overperforming (even with the crash the Mets would still overperform for the year). Specifically the Mets starting pitching imploded as Glavine gave up 25 H and 17 runs in his last 3 starts (10.1 IP), while names like Oliver Perez, Phil Humber, Brian Lawrence (not good enough for the Nats!) and Mike Pelfrey had to start and mostly failed.
Do we see any parallels? Unfortunately not. The Nats have a tougher schedule than the Reds and they do not play head to head. This makes catching up much harder. The Reds may fall but can the Nats win 13 games or so against what they have coming up? Go 8-1 versus the easy teams and you still need to go 5-4 versus the Braves, Cards, & D-Backs. The Reds and Nats are for all intents and purposes where they should be, with possibly the Nats slightly overperforming. If anything the Pirates are the team that could come crashing down, but unfortunately have even more of a lead. The Reds pitching staff is also pretty solid and a total implosion would be pretty shocking.
What that all mean? That the odds given the Nats are 2% for a reason. They have a very tough situation in front of them. But hey, if the Nats can win the Haren game tonight, I think I can believe anything can happen.