The Washington Nationals went 98-64 in their 2012 season; since the franchise moved to Washington, DC, that was by far their best season. They won the division, but made an early postseason exit, losing three games to two to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The team is on pace for another terrific regular season.
The Nationals have only won the National League East twice in the franchise’s history and one of those times was as the Montreal Expos. The Atlanta Braves are the team to beat in the NL East, having won the division 12 times. The Braves and Nationals continue to trade the first place spot with one another, and both teams need huge second halves of the season.
Neither the Braves nor Nationals show any signs of letting up after the All-Star break, but the Nationals are without a doubt moving in the right direction. The team is about to be finished dealing with the injury to Bryce Harper and has found a rhythm. They have the best pitching staff in the major league right now in terms of earned run average. The Braves rank sixth.
Pitching is key to taking home a division title this year. In the past, the Nationals have struggled to field a threatening starting rotation through and through. The team now has solid young starting pitchers they can rely on for six to seven innings a game.
The Nationals need to keep playing day-to-day, focusing on winning each series. Their eyes are on the Braves, but they must continue to win games against great National League teams like the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers. Those wins start and end with pitching. The offensive support will be there, but if the pitching remains dominant, the Nationals can compete with any team in the majors. If they can do that, they will give the Braves trouble down the stretch.