A couple people commented that they don't like the use of "If the Mets go... then the Nats have to go..." talk. I get that. Teams don't get to .500 by winning every other game. Everyone goes 7-3. Everyone goes 3-7. So while it may be unlikely that the Mets go under .500 or the Nats play 95 win ball from here on out, it's not unusual. Some team over .500 will probably play under .500 from here on out. Some team around .500 will probably play like the best team in the league. Might as well be the Mets and Nats, right?
But still I do like the use of trends occasionally because it helps highlight how big leads (or deficits) actually are. When you are down say 3 games the optimistic part of your mind tells you "Oh that's just a series. We sweep, they get swept and everything is good" or "We have 6 games head to head left so even if we simply match these guys in the other games we can almost make that up by going 4-2 against them". These are completely fair and true views, but they are one-sided. Being 3 games out is as close to 6 games out as it is to first. You are one series away from a big hole, a bad head to head record from your performance in the other X number of games to not matter. By giving you an idea of how the Nats would have to perform if the Mets do nothing special I hope to show you how big the hole the Nats have dug actually is. Because it's there.
It's certainly a hole that the Nats can dig out of. The head to head alone would cover it (although at this point a 6-0 sweep would be required to make up enough games) but it's dire times for the Nats.
What can I say that's positive? As I noted the starting pitching has picked up. Strasburg looked on the ropes early and often but pulled off 2 runs in 6 innings, a performance you'd take every time. In the past two weeks Gio (2 starts - 1.38 ERA), Strasburg (2 - 2.08), and ZNN (3 - 3.20) have done very well and even though he's struggling a bit Scherzer has kept the team in the game. In fact before Ross' performance in LA you might find yourself going all the way back to Jun 28th to find a game where you can flat out say the starter lost it (Roark bombed in Philly). I'd probably quibble with that - I don't think 5IP, 5ER games help anyone, but the fact is the starting pitching is good. Maybe not great like advertised but good enough to win games by itself when doing well, and good enough to keep the Nats in it when it's not. The SP ERA looks only good (6th in NL at 3.68) but replace Fister with Ross and assume Strasburg now is not Strasburg before and it would be right up there with the best. This is the Nats strength. Always has been.
Treinen has looked good. Last night it wasn't even a blowout and he came through. As terrible as it may sound, it might be time again to try handing him the 7th. Desperate times.
It hasn't been a good last couple of games but both Zimm and Ian have done well recently*. Ian has even started walking and apparently not in the "I'm going to defensively take pitches to try to get on base because I can't hit" way. In 64 games from May1st to July 19th Ian walked 10 times. In the 23 games since, he's walked 10 times.
Trea Turner is still crushing it in AAA. A little less pop and patience than in AA, but with a .315 average you don't complain. He could be called up and although I think taking over for Ian is not the right idea (see above), there's no reason he couldn't start spelling guys all over the IF/OF.
Although Bryce's power has mysteriously vanished** He's still hitting and still getting on base. A .462 clip. He stole a base (finally) last night. If this is the role the opposing pitchers are going to force on him because he has no real protection, well he can flourish here too.
Whatever deal Yunel made with whatever demon - looks like it's good for the whole season.
There's your positives. Run with it!
*As hard as it may be to do, Zimm may need a day off. After being in a nice groove since coming back, he's 1-11 with 7 Ks in the past 3 games.
**Well not that mysteriously. Bryce had been pounded low and away all year, but occasionally either by mistake or on purpose pitchers would challenge him up in the zone. He would punish those pitches. That's happening less and low and away is happening more. To the tune of like 50% of the pitches he's seen. Now we get to the guessing game - It probably reached a tipping point in mid July (he hit .240 for a stretch) where he decided he was going to change his approach and if they were going to let him get singles he was going to try to take them. Then going after the singles made it a little harder for him to drive the balls for big hits. Just a guess.