Gotta be a short one today.
The Nats put themselves in the driver's seat by sweeping the Mets out of Washington. The Mets have one strength - starting pitching - but circumstance served to dilute that strength and without that the Mets can't beat the Nats. The Nats can hit. The Mets cannot.
Now the Nats have a golden opportunity to perhaps stamp the season as "ALL BUT OVER". Seven more games at home. Four vs Cincinnati (29-50) , three more vs Milwaukee (35-42), before facing the Mets again with four in NY.
But really it's less about the Nats and more about the Mets. This is a stretch that can put an end to the Mets season easily. The Mets have to take on the Cubs for four games next then they meet the current 2nd place Marlins after that. If they can't take that series from the Marlins they could be facing a 3 game deficit to the fish, let alone a possible double digit one to the Nats going into that next Nats series. If that happens, that series becomes do or die for New York. Lose it and you almost have to write the Mets off. The Marlins* then become the competition. If things break right the Nats could quickly find themselves in a Cubs like position.
But like we've talked about all season, the Nats haven't broken things right just yet. They've had opportunities but have managed to always come back to the pack. Leading the pack sure, but still in it. Tonight is game 80. That was the story of the first half of the year. The story of the 2nd half could begin tonight. Will it be more of the same or the story of a team preparing for the playoffs?
*In the same time frame the Marlins have games @Atlanta and vs Cincinnati, so the expectation would be that they'd be around enough that the Nats can't shift into cruise control just yet.