I told you to stay calm.
This series was meant to be a proving ground for not only the Nats, but the Cardinals too. They too feasted on the dregs of the NL early. They won 7 of their 10 wins going into a series with the D-Backs against ATL (currently 6-18), MIL (9-15), and SDP (9-16) and two more came against the questionable but probably bad Reds (started 5-1, 5-5 to start STL series, now 10-15). They lost the first game in Arizona to the "jury's still out" Diamondbacks to fall back within one game of .500 then stormed back to crush them in the last two games of the series by a combined 19-6. At 12-10 and seemingly on the right track (4-2 little road trip, 5-2 in last 7) this homestand would set everything right again.
Seemingly the narratives for this team and the Nats would begin to settle after this series. If the Cardinals took 2 of 3 the teams would probably be seen on equal footing, the Nats able to take a game from a good team on the road, and the Cardinals able to defend their home against a good team. If the Nats took 2 of 3 then the Nats would be seen as a good team that slipped up against the Phillies, while the Cardinals would maintain a sense of a good team that just isn't finding their way, a team that might remain a step behind the league leaders. If the Cardinals swept that reverses. St. Louis would be the good team that was struggling a bit to find their way but now was on track, while the Natst would be a good team still needing to prove they could hang with the best in the league.
But the Nats sweeping the Cardinals? What exactly does that mean?
Are the Nats really good? That seems to be the most likely scenario. They did shut down a potent offense limiting them to 6 runs. The Phillies sweep didn't make sense but they are rolling now sitting at 15-10. Perhaps they really are a decent squad and well, sometimes the breaks don't go your way against a decent squad - even at home.
Are the Cardinals really not good? This though throws a monkey wrench into the Nats ascendant narrative. Not even winning one against the Nats, while being swept by the Pirates (scoring 7 runs) and losing 2 of 3 at home to the Cubs (scoring 6 runs), set the Cardinals up as no better than a middling team. Rather than prove something against a good team the Nats might just have beaten up another bad squad.
The latter is certainly not a bad thing. You want to beat up bad squads. You NEED to beat up bad squads. But I think what we really wanted from this weekend was clarity and I don't think we got any, though I'll take strong hints in the "Nats are great" direction.
The good news though is that clarity is likely just around the corner. Kansas City may not be a division winner this year, but they shouldn't be worse than .500 and are notably defending champs. Chicago is legit great.
What's the worst case going forward? Nats win no more than 2 games, Cards flounder. Phillies flounder (though they do play eachother right now). Nats look like the not good enough team we worried they might be.
Best case? Nats win at least 4, Cards do well, Phillies do well. Nats look like a contender for best team in majors
So Nats win 3? Cards flounder and Phillies do well? Maybe followed up with a series loss at home to Detroit, who's ok? That would keep things nice and murky