Three games vs the Mets
The Mets are a 19-21 team that feel exactly like they should be a 19-21 team. There isn't anything they do particularly well. Dillon Gee and Jon Neise have been very good, but the other starters (Colon, Wheeler and whoever) haven't, making the rotation fair at best. The bullpen, despite not being able to nail down a closer (they'll be on #4 whenever they decide who that will be), is not as terrible as you might think, but it is filled with mediocre arms that could give up runs in any outing. Jenrry Mejia has moved there and might provide a shut-down arm. Maybe. The Nats only face Neise (v Roark tonight) so they should be able to score some runs in this series. (Colon v Gio, Wheeler v ZNN in other 2)
The Mets offense is only 14th in OPS (terrible) but is 5th in runs scored which does not compute. Part of it is good hitting with RISP. Another part is an odd tendency to hit HR with men on base.
In the NL 56.8% of all PA happen with no one on base. Unsurprisingly, home runs are hit with no one on base about the same amount of time (57.8%). You might expect a higher percentage of HRs to be hit with men-on because of typical line-up construction putting OBP guys ahead of power guys but given the vagaries of that (SPEEDY GUYS FIRST! SPAN!) the percentage is only slightly higher. Anyway for the Mets this year? Fully 2/3rd of their home runs have been hit with men on base. The end result is an offense that looks better than it is, unless for some reason you believe the Mets are clutch.
Muprhy is underrated and hot since coming back and Granderson has been picking up (and Wright is Wright) but if you get through those guys the line-up should be a breeze. Guys like Ruben Tejada (hot recently but terrible) and d'Arnaud (might never come around) give the Mets a 7-8-9 as bad as you'll face in the majors.
The Nats should win 2 out of 3 and if Roark wins tonight over Neise, I'd want a sweep.
Three games versus the Reds.
The Reds are 18-21 but as you might think they are a bit better than that, going 6-12 in one-run games so far this year. The offense has been mediocre. Votto, Todd Frazier, and the catching duo of Mesoraco (out with hammy) then Pena have been good but the rest of the team is nothing special. Phillips is aging. Hamilton hasn't matured. Cozart is defense first. Ryan Ludwick. Losing Jay Bruce hurts as he should be their 4th good bat. Instead they are playing guys like, ugh, Roger Bernadina.
But the offense has been propped up by the pitching. Johnny Cueto has been as good as anyone this year. Homer Bailey is off a bit but in his place Mike Leake has stepped up. Alfredo Simon had a hot start (but is struggling a bit now). Tony Cigrani is more than a solid 4/5 (who might slip back in the rotation in time to face the Nats). The bullpen does have a ridiculously soft middle. The relievers with the 3rd-7th most IP have ERAs of 4.05, 5.54, 6.00, 6.30 and 9.24 and they earned those. But the back end is very strong with Sam LeClure, a revived Jonathon Broxton, and the returned Aroldis Chapman. If the Nats expect to come back late versus the Reds they'll be in for a rude awakening.
Before I forget to mention - something else about the Reds keeping them in games - they have arguably the best defense in the majors. No terrible gloves out there and when they play Heisey, you could argue 5 out of their 7 non-catcher fielders are above average. The Nats should watch and learn.
The Nats will definitely get Cueto, almost certainly in Game 1 setting up a Cueto vs Strasburg match-up that writes itself (Strasburg pitches well enough to win but Cueto shuts Nats out, Strasburg haters and defenders line-up once again). If the Nats are lucky the Reds will want to re-insert Cingrani back into the rotation where he was before, meaning the Nats would get Jeff Francis and Alfredo Simon. If they don't care about that then the Nats will get Cingrani then Simon.
The Cueto game will be tough regardless but the other two (Fister and Roark) should be winnable. Again 2 out of 3.
The Nats are lucky to be in the position they are in. They caught bad breaks off the field but not on it and none of the NL East teams have pulled away. As I said earlier in the week, now's the time schedule wise to make a move before they hit a hard spell potentially still lacking LaRoche, Zimm and Bryce's bats. I want to see a 5-1 homestand, 4-2 is acceptable.