Now as we get into the real stretch run I want to be absolutely clear what I mean when I say the Nats have a chance. I mean exactly that "a chance". It's not a "good chance" like Giants have with the Dodgers (only 1.5 games behind, and with seven H2H games to go). It's also not a "bad chance" like the Twins have with the Royals, where essentially Minnesota has to play like the best team in baseball and Kansas City the worst, for the Twins to capture the division. It's a chance.
I'll say it again. The Nats can either beat up the Mets H2H and match them otherwise, or they can match them H2H and play much better than them otherwise. Either of those scenarios would get the Nats close. Neither of those scenarios is very likely though. Fangraphs has the Nats odds sitting at 18.6% using projections or 11.8% using season stats to date. A chance. If it came down to a dice roll the Nats would get #6 and the Mets would get #1-#5.
I also said yesterday that the Nats can't play poorly. They can't go 4-9 in the next 13 games (before the H2H) and hope to win the division. Of course they CAN technically, same way the Twins CAN win the Central, but it would take something that right now involves nothing crazy (just unlikely) and makes it involves something crazy.
The flipside of this, and the part really out of the Nats hands, is that the Mets can't play great. The Mets are in control. They can play well enough that how the Nats do is moot. If in their next 12 games the Mets go 9-3 it will probably work just as same as the Nats playing poorly. The Nats regardless of how they play will lose a game or two, meaning that in order to catch the Mets a sweep of H2H is almost necessary along with playing better in the 20 games between series. It's a lot to ask. Too much probably, I bet the odds would drop closer to 5% or "I'm thinking of a number 1 through 20. Guess what it is" stage.
For anyone vaguely holding onto "well maybe the Wild Card" hopes, I wouldn't bother. Pittsburgh and Chicago are the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the NL right now (3rd and 4th in the majors) I expect the Cubs to slow down a bit but still they have a 6.5 game lead over the Giants for the 2nd Wild Card. If the Giants don't sweep this series starting today...
So again here we are. The plan is still the same. Win the series in front of you. Hope the Mets don't. Get to the next H2H series closer than you are right now. Win that, sweeping if possible. Repeat until the season end. That's the most reasonable plan for the Nats right now. Let's hope the Mets cooperate.