"We got an NL East starter!"
"From the Nats?"
"Well that's ok. The Braves aren't quite as stacked but have a lot of young talent."
"Not them either."
"The Mets traded cross town? Sandy Alderson is getting bold."
"Oh that's right! How could I forget Hamels?"
"What's left? Someone like Tom Koehler or Nate Eovaldi?! Haha! I mean come on."
ZNN is here and there, but Adam Warren is nothing special, so tonight really it depends on the ZNN that shows up.
Anyway the Nats are back in first. Some people are taking this as a triumph of sorts. To me it's like the Nats wasted 40 games. If you assume the Mets are the only true challenger to the Nats (and that seems the most generous view of the NL East, arguably the worst division in baseball) then Nats record compared to the Mets one is the only one that matters. They are tied a quarter of the season in, the season starts anew. Do I like the Nats position? I think you have to. If you liked the Nats by 10 to start the year, and nothing has changed, you like them by 7-8 from here on out. I liked them for the season, so I like them for 3/4 of the season. I'd like them for 1/2 the season, or a month, or even a 10 game stretch no questions asked. (When you get down to just a couple series then you have to look at match-ups more closely) The more games, the more likely it is the Nats talent advantage will shine through. 122 games is not 162, but it's plenty.
Some may say you shouldn't have been worried. They're wrong. The Nats were one bad stretch (which will happen at some point) and one great Mets stretch (maybe won't happen but as we saw not impossible) from being in real trouble. Like panic time, trouble. It wasn't likely that both those things would essentially happen back to back to start the year but like flipping a coin heads 10 times in a row - it becomes a lot more likely if I tell you you've already done it 5 times. The Nats wasted away their cushion. Now they've built it back. The worry state officially ended... I'd say about a week ago. Pulling within 3 games kept a bad series/good series combo from putting the Nats 6+ out*. It's not quite hammock time but I'd feel good right now.
All the Nats have to do right now is avoid injury... well any more injuries. The team could absorb one OF injury with Taylor in the wings, one SP injury with Roark in the swingman role (nicks and dings have meant so far they've only needed spot starts) and maybe one IF injury with Espinosa (though no one expected him to hit this well). They've kind of gotten all of those, so they are on the edge. Will they get healthy before going over? That's the question. It's not a cliff's edge, it's a step's edge but it's there. You know what - really just keep Bryce and Max in bubble wrap between games and they'll probably make the playoffs one way or another.
(God willing the eventual Nats slow down - they aren't winning 85% of their games from here on out - doesn't coincide with some silly injury like Uggla going out for the year and people start saying "his veteran leadership mattered so much")
*It depends on what you think of your team / their team but for the Nats right now, 40 games in, I'd say it breaks down like this for me
8+ games out : Panic Time
4-7 games out : Worry Time
2-3 games out : Annoyed Time
1 game ahead to 1 game out : Interested Time
2-3 games ahead : Blood in the Water Time
4-6 games ahead : Hammock Time
6+ games ahead : Tempt Fate and Look Ahead to Playoffs Time