Heading towards the end of August, the Washington Nationals seem to be finally making a run. After winning eight our of their last nine games the Nationals appear to be finally hitting their stride. This leaves us to wonder, what will it take for this team to keep it up and actually make the postseason?
Fortunately for the Nationals, their schedule is one of the easiest remaining in the MLB. The Nationals have seven games remaining against the Mets, six against the Marlins, and six against the Phillies. There is no question the Nationals have the opportunity to win a lot of their remaining games, but still it may not be enough.
The two most likely teams to lose their lead to the Nationals are the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds are closer to the Nationals at the moment, owning a 6.5 game lead. The Reds have a difficult remaining schedule, including four games with the Cardinals, three with the Dodgers, and six with the Pirates. The Pirates road also should not be easy as they have six with both the Cardinals and the Reds. A lot of pressure for a team experiencing true success for the first time in twenty years.
If the Reds play .500 baseball for the rest of the season (14-14), the Nationals would need to play 18-7 to pass them, a seemingly reasonable number considering the weak schedule left to play. The Reds would obviously hope to play over .500 baseball and essentially eliminate the Nationals but if they do fall back to the pack the Nationals have an opportunity to gain some serious ground.
The Pirates, however, will be more difficult to catch. If they go 14-15 in their remaining 29 games, the Nationals will need to go a scorching 20-5, highly unlikely.
Currently the Nationals have their sites set on the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are the easiest team to catch and the Nationals are slowly chipping into their lead. It has been a difficult season for the Nats so far, but finally they can consider themselves in the playoff race, hoping to make a run.