I'm giving Bryce the homestand, but in fact I'm giving everyone the homestand** and will see where things lie come Monday. Other than the usual, "seeing more games to form a better judgment of players" there are other, season defining reasons to wait until Monday.
The Nats have a weekend series with the Padres, who are neither a good team nor are playing particularly well. The Nats should take at least 2 of 3. That's important because the Mets have a weekend series with... the Marlins! Assuming the Nats take care of business, the only way one of these two can gain ground is if either the Marlins or the Mets sweep the other. That would put the NL East at either:
Nats; Mia 3.5 GB, Mets 8 GB or
Nats; Mets 5 GB, Mia 6.5 GB
with closing in on 60 games to go in the season. Tick tick tick. Looking at it another way, the only way the Nats won't come out of this weekend in better shape then they went in is if they screw it up, if they lose the series or worse - get swept. It's in their hands.*
Another reason to wait it out is because we get within a week of the trade deadline at that point and that's when most of the action will happen. Up until this weekend, there has always been more time to see if player X will come around or player Y will begin to fade. After this weekend, there is no more time. You have to have a decision in mind. You've seen 100 games. You don't want a good game or two that week to change anything.
After these games the Nats will go on the road to Cleveland, SF (who'd I expect to right themselves a little by then), and then Arizona. The D-backs aren't good but I don't automatically assume games at the end of a road trip are going to be easy, especially a Cleveland to SF to Phoenix road trip. Then it's CLE and SF at home. This is the tough stretch, where if the Nats are going to stumble in the second half, it's most likely to happen here.
That's why this Padres series matters a little bit more. Timing wise, and given the current NL East situation, it is at a point that can make all the difference. If the Nats are 3.5 and 4 games up after this weekend, then a stumble during the tough stretch could put the Nats in a three-way race. Maybe you are more likely to make that trade to try to ensure this doesn't happen. If the Nats are 6.5 and 7 games up come Monday I wouldn't even worry
about a stumble. It would take a crash really for a chasing team to pull
even. The team would be more likely to let the trade deadline pass.
Finish it here. Nats - win the series, so you can muddle through the tough stretch, so you can glide to the finish.
*If I were a Nats fan, what would I root for this
weekend? Obviously a Nats sweep - then honestly a Marlins sweep. The
Marlins are the 2nd WC right now. If they were to sweep the Mets and the
Dodgers didn't tank, the Mets could find themselves FIVE game out of the
WC on Monday morning. That's a team that has no reason to make a trade
and I want the Mets, with those arms and with last year's run still
giving them hopeful thoughts for this year, out of it.
**Who else is of interest? Espinosa is slumping out of the gate, was playing over his head, and had a terrible 2nd half last year. Robinson/Zimmerman and Taylor/Revere haven't shown any reason to believe the 2nd half will be that different than the first.