The Braves are begging, PLEADING, to be put out of their misery. If you doubt that, understand that they continue to play BJ Upton everyday. BJ Upton has just over 900+ PAs for the Braves so far. He's batting under .200 and has 16 home runs across 1 and 2/3 seasons. After having one of the worst offensive seasons in recent memory in 2013 the Braves decided to bat him primarly first or second. Does that sound like a team that wants to win?
The Nats haven't been able to do it just yet thanks to some bumbling play versus bad teams but they have a chance this week. They play 2 more games than the Braves before Friday (the Braves have two off days - how 'bout that!) then head into Atlanta for a 3 game set. I'd love it if the Nats wake up a week from now a cool 5.5 games ahead of the Braves and almost (but not quite) in coasting mode.
As for the Nats the starting pitching is hot. In their last 2 games each Zimmermann, Strasburg, Roark and Fister have gone 14 innings* and they've given up 2, 1, 2, & 2 runs respectively. Roark has been particuarly good going four straight games of 7 IP, 1 R ball. The relief pitching though has been spotty and the offense up and down. As much attention as Bryce Harper has gotten for his issues, Werth, LaRoche, and Ramos are all hitting noticeably worse.
I'm hoping (and expecting) the offense to get fully on track soon and this week would be nice. It's a week that should set-up the rest of the season. With a week of great play, the Nats can put away the free falling Braves, with good play they can expand to a comfortable lead. Or if they continue to stumble, it sets up August as a continued slow pull away, with the "one bat injury away" hanging over the Nats season for another month. (and then, for completeness sake, there's a total collapse scenario making the season a dogfight - but does anyone see that happening?)
The won't get another straight-up shot at the Braves until a week into September so let's get this done.
*Last Nats pitcher to go over 7 innings was Strasburg a month ago. Just noting - I didn't see an egregious pattern of underuse or anything.