Let's get this over with right? The NL Is pretty boring. The Cubs are set as 1. The Nats are set as 2 (OH COME ON - Did we not just go through this with calling the division? Do you not see you are doing the same thing again? Really? You don't? Are you really going to fret a 4.5 game lead with an easy schedule? ... Sigh. You're the worst). The Dodgers... well ok the Dodgers aren't set as 3 - not given 6 H2H games vs the Giants coming up. So you have that. But they do have a distinct edge and are almost certainly in the playoffs. That leaves the NL questions as :
1) Can the Giants heat up and catch the Dodgers? (unlikely)
2) Who's going to be the 2 WC teams out of Mets, Giants (or LA), and Cardinals?
3) Who's going to host that WC?
#2 is interesting for as long as it holds - which should be into next week at least. #1 could be, but could also die out as an interesting before Thursday. #3 - who cares?
The AL is more exciting as the AL East is up for grabs between 3 teams (it would take another 7-1 type run by the Yankees for them to have a chance) and you can still put 7 teams in the WC race. With those numbers we're sure to have something of interest next week and likely something all the way till the last couple series.
So if you're like me and waiting out another 10 days before you really start to care how the Nats individual players are looking* there is your MLB update. Starting series of major interest : LAD @ NYY, BAL @ BOS.
OK So back to the Nats - they keep doing what they are supposed to be doing. They pitch well. They win. Now they face the Mets. Early in the year you might have thought this would have been important to the NL East. It's not. A few weeks ago you might have thought the Nats could finish off the Mets here. They can't. So this is more about feelings than facts. The Mets are a good team and they are playing well. They are a playoff team.We want to see whether the Nats can pick it back up against that level of competition.
Now like I said in my aside - it doesn't REALLY matter. We're 3 weeks from the playoffs and how they do today is going to matter far less to us than how they do that last week. But the Nats haven't won a series against a solid .500+ team in over a month. That's part schedule but it's part Nats, too. They may not get another chance to either as the Pirates and Marlins both have fallen away. If they go into the playoffs without this series win that will be in the back of our minds. The Nats haven't proven in a long time that they can raise their level of play. Now, granted, that may last all of 2 innings if the Nats come out hot in the NLDS, but it's the kind of thing that can fester and grow. Come out flat in G1 and suddenly it's a "thing". I don't want "things". I don't want to have to deal with talking narratives that probably aren't the driving reason for losses. I also don't want to have the Nats dealing with things that while not the driving reason, may in fact be something working against them.
So win. Play 3 good games and take at least 2. Give the Nats fans that to hang onto as you play mediocre teams down the stretch.
*Yes, we'd rather everyone be hot right now - but things change so quickly it would barely matter. Let's say... I don't know... Rendon was hitting .450 with 4 homers in the last 2 weeks. You'd be super happy right? But let's say from Sept 20th on he hits .125 with no XBH. Are you going to care about those other weeks? No. So we sit and wait for players to do well, but really we sit and wait for it to be close enough to the playoffs where we actually care how they are doing one way or another.