What happens when you virtually clinch your division by mid August? When you see that the two teams chasing you could win a week and a half straight weeks of ball games, that you could lose the same and you'd still be right there? That the closer team chasing you lost their star player for the year and the further team can't keep anyone healthy? You ease up. that's what. You lose focus on the race and you start to think about how long the season is and how you just want to get to the post-season already and well you lose games you should win.
That's one thing that might be going on with the Nats. Or it might not! I don't know. I can't look into the heart of every player, not since an EMP pulse fried all my nano-camera floating in their bloodstream. It's ok though. Post-season after post-season has shown it's not about how you are doing when you get in. It's about how you do when you get there, how your top 2-3 pitchers do, and your overall talent. I know you want the Nats to go into the post-season winning 2 out of every 3 games but it doesn't matter. Really we'll take the post-season results and backfill the narrative anyway.
Mediocre September - Lose in NLDS : The team has played like crap for months and Dusty couldn't get them ready!
Mediocre September - Win in NLDS : The team was just resting and Dusty was able to get them up for the playoffs!
Good September - Lose in NLDS : This team just can't perform in the playoffs. Maybe they wasted too much energy playing hard till the end for no reason.
Good September - Win in NLDS : It's call 'momentum' people!
At this point what I'm thinking about is Strasburg and Ross and Zimmerman. Who's going to be healthy by the playoffs. I'm thinking the bullpen. How is Dusty going to settle it down? What's it going to look like post roster expansion. Is he even going to try to set up a 7-8-9 type of situation or is he going to keep going heavy match-up? That's what's on my mind. Not the Ws and Ls. Not until the Marlins get within a punchers chance - say 5 games or so, right now.
You worry if you like. We all follow differently. But it's a lot easier on the spirit this way, I'll tell you that.