MLB Washington Nationals

5 Reasons Why Washington Nationals Will Still Make Postseason

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Why Washington Will Still Make Playoffs

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

For all of 2013, it's been one step forward, four steps back for the Washington Nationals. The Nationals' 2013 season has been all about missed opportunities and inconsistency, and it shows in the standings with them at 52-54 on their off day today, 8.5 back of the Atlanta Braves. Needless to say, Washington's playoff hopes are anything but a given, especially with the recent fireworks coming from within with the firing of Rick Eckstein and demotion of Drew Storen.

Washington has had some great stories in the contributions of guys like Anthony Rendon, who is fully healthy and has been solid at second for Washington in place of the under-performing and injured Danny Espinosa. Couple that with the unheralded additions of guys like Ian Krol and Fernando Abad out of the Washington bullpen, along with Mr. Triple-A depth Ross Ohlendorf himself, and you have some nice stories to distract yourself from an otherwise infuriating season in D.C.

Does Washington have any chance of making the postseason? Yes and no. They are on a nice little streak, currently winners of four of their last five, and have a couple of walkoff wins thanks to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, who has more walkoff hits before age 30 than anyone in baseball with nine. As funny as it may seem, an 8.5 game hole is not insurmountable, especially with the team they have in front of them in the Braves. Washington is going to need contributions from everyone, and here are five reasons why they can still make the playoffs.

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Jayson Werth on Offense

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It's year three, and Werth is finally healthy and adjusted. He's been on fire of late and is on his way to having hands-down his best year since signing that huge contract. Werth can carry this team right into the postseason.

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Atlanta Braves Injuries

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Atlanta has blown big divisional leads before, remember 2011? They just lost Tim Hudson for the year, and the Uptons have been what many of the naysayers expected them to be — inconsistent and downright non-existent at times. If there was ever a team to blow a huge lead down the stretch, it's the Braves.

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No Other Threats in The Division

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Aside from Atlanta, the NL East is a lot weaker than expected. The Phillies continue the most spectacular fall from grace by any team of recent memory and the Mets are rebuilding. The Marlins? Yeah, I already said too much about them. Washington won't see much resistance from anyone else in the division.

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Dan Haren's Recent Performance

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Haren has been, well, Haren-like. He had a 3.58 coming off the DL in 2012, and could be on his way there this year as well. Haren is the key to this rotation because he's the bridge to no. 5, and he is the difference between a winning streak and a losing streak.

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Top Three of the Rotation

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The three-headed monster of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann can match up with the best in the game, and is the biggest reason why Washington will stick around in this race.