I've already called the NL East (for good reason) but some of you might be holding out. Six head to head games left! Six!
It's true - if the Braves sweep the Nats in those six games, it's a dogfight for winning the division. But that's what it would take. The Braves go 5-1? Not good enough. That would make up 4 games on the Nats leaving the Nats with a 3 game advantage in their other 15 games (and Braves 13). If the Braves were super hot in those other games too and went 10-3, the Nats would have to go 8-7 to drop into a tie. (in other words you'd be having the Braves go 15-4 and the Nats 9-12 to end the year). No, 5-1 won't do for the Braves. Leaves too much still in other teams hands. No it has to be 6-0.
And you know what? Why would you think the Braves could do that? Their offense is 14th in the NL. The Nats starting pitching staff has the 2nd best ERA in the majors and that's only because Kershaw is Kershaw. #2-#5 the Nats are the best. Someone will shut out the Braves or at least hold them to one run. You rarely win games where you score one-run. You can't win when you don't score yourself. Their bats don't have it in them to otuscore the Nats so in probably 4
or 5 of the games they need their starter to pitch a gem. That's too
much to ask of a pitching staff that is good, maybe even very good, but not team-carrying great.
That's why it's over for the Braves. They can't sweep the Nats and if they can't sweep the Nats, they can't win the East.
What to watch tonight then? DET/KC in the only premier match-up for the next few days. MIA/MIL is the next best set, which quickly doesn't matter if Miami doesn't win tonight. CLE/LAA would be the third choice but really - why aren't you watching DET/KC? It better be a blowout. (or maybe you are a NY Giants or Lions fan and are excited by how bad the other teams in your division look)
Yep Nats v Braves in September doesn't even make the watch list outside of fans of these teams.
(Sadly looking ahead the season ends with a whimper. It's likely no two teams playing for something will be playing eachother in that last series. Fluke of the schedule. The 2nd to last series though holds a lot of potentially interesting games so I'll hold out hope for that)