On Tuesday, the Washington Nationals released their 2014 schedule. If the Nationals have any hopes of making the postseason in 2014, they are going to need a hot start as they begin with intra-division games.
Between March 31 and April 16, the Nationals will play a stretch of 15 games against NL East division rivals. They’ll start off at the New York Mets, come home for six games against the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins, before going on the road for six games against the Marlins. Getting off to a hot start could give them a sizable lead in the division and would force the rest of the division to play catchup for the rest of the season.
Lucky for the Nationals, they then return home to D.C. for an 11-game homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. All three teams will be tough to beat, but the Nationals will get them at home and winning a ball game is always easier in your home park.
The annual rivalry with the Baltimore Orioles doesn’t get renewed until July 7-10. Over that four game span, the teams will play two games in D.C. before traveling north to finish out the four game stretch with two more games in Baltimore. With the positive outlook that both teams have heading into next season, that could be an fun World Series preview matchup to watch.
The 2014 season will end just as tough as it started. While the Nationals will start off with 15 games against the NL East, they’ll end with 23 games against the division. Over that 23 game period, they’ll begin a six-game homestand against the Philadelphia Phillies before going on the road for 11 games in New York, Atlanta and Miami. They will the end the season with a six-game stint in Nationals Park against the Mets and Marlins.
For the fans, there will be two games played at Nationals Park on holidays. On Memorial Day (Monday, May 26 vs. Marlins) and Independence Day (Friday, July 4 vs. Chicago Cubs), the Nationals will be at home. Be sure to get your ticket and get to the game early as D.C. always has some pretty cool sights to see before games on days as special as those.
It will be all business right from the get-go for the Nationals. In 2013, the Nationals got off to a slow start and were still able to hang around in the division through the All-Star break. In 2014, a slow start could potentially put the division out of reach before we get out of the month of April. While it’s not good for any team to start the season slow, it’s especially important for the Nationals that they begin the season on the right foot.