After a very sweet sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies this past weekend the Washington Nationals stand at 57-60. Tonight they open a big three game series, at Nationals Park, with a very beatable San Francisco Giants team. You may recall they are the defending World Champions but aren’t playing like it as of late.
For the Nationals they really need a sweep of the Giants, which would get them to 60-60 and give them a chance to make a playoff run.
The Nationals’ chances of catching the East leading Atlanta Braves seem very slim as they are 14 games back in second place. But a look at the Wild Card standings have them behind 8.5 games back of the Cincinnati Reds, but the team they may have to catch is the St. Louis Cardinals . The Cards are at the moment playing very inconsistent baseball, kind of like the Nationals before their latest win streak.
Washington must go 30-15 over their last 45 games to reach 87 wins which should be good enough for that final Wild Card playoff spot. Of the Nationals’ remaining 45 games, 19 are at Nationals Park and 26 on the road. Their final week could be the key to the playoffs – if indeed the Nationals are starting to make their last second run.
They will face the Cardinals in St. Louis in a three game series starting Monday September 23. Then they will close the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a weekend series that begins on Friday September 27. At present Washington is 23-32 on the road thus far this season, and that would have to change with 26 games out of D.C. remaining.
For Washington to get their 30 wins they would have to realistically win at least 15 games on the road, including all three games in St. Louis. That would also mean they would have to take 15 out of the 19 games left at Nationals Park.
Meanwhile, the Cards have 45 games left with a breakdown of 25 at home and 20 away. They face teams with an average win percentage of .508 making their road to the playoffs challenging.
The Cincinnati Reds, who have been hot of late, have just 44 games left on their schedule that with 24 home, 20 away and their opponents have a winning percentage of .490. Given the way they are playing it is hard to see the Reds taking a swoon.
Hey, no one said this was going to be easy, but the Nationals still have a realistic chance at the playoffs if they continue to build on their modest three game winning streak.
Rant Sports columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc