While you were off doing whatever it is you do on the weekend the Nats lost a series to the Braves, and the Mets swept the Twins. Fortunately this late in the year, that does little but push back the clinching date* and give the Dodgers a reason to check the HFA standings after they are done with this Giants series. For Joe Q Fan, now you are far more likely to see a NL East clinch in person if you grab one of the first couple games versus the D-Backs. So maybe do that!
For the Nats, the story of the weekend was Trea Turner - who bashed 3 homers in the first two games and who sits with a .355 / .377 / .590 line right now. The only downside? Trea doesn't get to face the Braves again. He's hitting .475 / .492 / 1.424 against Atlanta. He his them so well that before this weekend he already had more of his HRs against Atlanta than any other team. Is he as good as Mike Trout as Ray Knight suggests? Well in Mike Trout's second season he hit .326 / .399 / .564 for the year. That's right about what Trea is doing. Except that was a full year. Oh and Mike Trout was 20-21 that year. And he played GG defense in center. "But Trea steals bases and hits triples. Did he steal bases and hit triples?", you ask. Yes, yes he did. 49SBs and eight triples. So.... no, Trea isn't Trout. But if Trea can be say 90% Trout? Take it and run with it. 90% Trout is still a HOFer.
The second story is Joe Ross is back! And in limited time he was... alright, I guess! He got into trouble, but worked out of it. Given that it was his first outing back I'm not going to read much into it. Really all I was looking for was "not terrible" and he cleared that low bar easily. Let's see how he does in 5 days going 5 innings or so. If he's let's say... "fair" or better then we are moving along nicely. It may not mean he pitches in the playoffs but it means the Nats will start to have that as an option and the more options the better. Because...
The third story was Gio struggled. This isn't itself that surprising. Gio is who he is. A decent pitcher who's a little inconsistent and can toss out too short outings at the drop of a hat. The thing is he had been pitching better recently. That gave Nats fans this idea that if he just rolled through his last few starts against middling competition, that putting him out there in the NLDS versus the Dodgers would be an obvious move. The Dodgers do struggle against LHP. However a game like this puts doubt back. 2016 Gio can deliver a stinker anytime and anyplace. Is that who you want on the mound in a short series even with a distince platoon advantage?
How did the offense do otherwise? Well the Nats crushed John Gant on Friday scoring five in an inning and 2/3rds. Great start! They would go on to score only 7 more runs in the next 25 and a third. Bad finish. Murphy keeps hitting and Werth had an ok series 4-13 with a double. Pretty much everyone else continues to be stuck in a rut. If you're looking for good news, no one started more than one game and went 0-fer weekend. If you're looking for bad news, well just look at the arms the Braves tossed out there this weekend. No good excuse why they didn't score more or at least hit more.
In other pitching news, Max helped his Cy Young case (a little) with a very good but not dominant outing. (For those on the Cy Max bandwagon tonight's a big night. Syndergaard, Bumgarner and Kershaw all go). Relief wise only Gott pitched more than once as Dusty saves up the arms. The kids you were hoping would play the role of unstoppable rookie fire-ballers in the playoffs, Lopez and Glover, both didn't do well. Rep also had a rough outing but he's not going to be used to face righties in the playoffs (one would think). Yeah Freeman got a big hit but that was 4 batters in. Rep shouldn't be going 4 batters in in the playoffs. That's not his role.
Tonight's games of choice BOS @ BAL - can Baltimore keep the division race interesting or will Boston get the separation it wants to set up for the playoffs?; SF @ LAD - Like BOS/BAL but higher stakes. SF is fighting for its playoff life as much as the division, LA could all but end the West race with a sweep. TOR @ SEA - two teams travelling in opposite directions but the Blue Jays still have a two-game edge. The Blue Jays could fortify their position with a series win. Seattle (2 out) really needs it to keep playoff hopes up. Detroit (2), Houston (3), New York (4), and KC (5) all take on the lower half of the AL in the mad dash to a Wild Card.
*when would we talk collapse? I suppose if the Nats lost 5 in a row and the Mets won 5 in a row, you could bring that up.