Yesterday the Dodgers made a deal and got Logan Forsythe. If you aren't familiar with him it's not your fault. He's played for some terrible teams and was mostly forgettable. But in 2015, at age 28, something clicked and he became a decent batter. The difference seems to be mostly learning what pitches in the zone to attack and which to let go but anyway evaluating him isn't the point. The point is the Dodgers addressed their one glaring issue and in my mind put themselves clearly ahead of the Nationals.
Why exactly are the Dodgers a better bet than the Nationals? Well before this I thought they were pretty equal. Yes, the catcher situation for the Dodgers is better. Yes, the pen a little better too given it is anchored by Jansen. And yes their bench is better with the at least decent OF/1B back ups you would expect from a healthy Ethier and Van Slyke. But the Dodgers rotation is still a huge injury risk to the point where an injury should not be feared, but expected. The Nats have the potential of Bryce to be much better sitting out there. And while the Nats have Zimmerman dragging down the line-up at first, the Dodgers had the probably worse with certainly less hope of being better Enrique Hernandez pencilled in at second. I felt it could be argued that the latter cancelled out the former. But now that 2nd is manned by the competent Forsythe I don't feel that's the case.
The Nats already should face an uphill climb for HFA and any playoff favorite slot with the Cubs sitting out there. Their bench players; Schwarber, John Jay, Montero, La Stella, could start for some teams. Their second oldest bat will be the 27 year old Jason Heyward. Their 6th man in the pen (I see it as Grimm) is comparable to a Treinen/Solis type. That team should win 100 games again. The Nats are clearly not as good as the Cubs.
What does this mean for a 5 or 7 game series in October? Not much. The Nats were clearly better than the Giants in 2014 and Cardinals in 2012 and where did that get them? The Cubs were clearly the best last year and came innings away from losing to a solid but ailing Cleveland team. But when your fanbase is desperate for a playoff series win conceding the "pre-season" 1st and 2nd spots in your league just feels wrong.
And the thing is - the Nats can't do much about this now. They can't bring in a big bat to kick Zimm out like they should. They can't find a closer. And maybe that's for the best because those things can potentially derail the Nats "consistently good enough" plan that keeps them in the playoff hunt annually. But they can improve the bench and pen to the point where you might like those more than the Dodgers (yes even with Jansen) and for a relatively low cost and with little impact on the future put themselves back on par given the usual expected injuries for a team.
This isn't asking the Nats to trade Robles for a middle relief arm, or to sign the slightly better than what we have Weiters to a 5 year deal. It's bringing in some bench and pen guys on a couple year, couple million dollar a year contracts. To me it's a no brainer.