The Washington Nationals currently claim first place in the NL East.
With just under two months left in the 2014 season though, the Nationals will face the Atlanta Braves for two more series before all is said and done. The Braves have struggled over the last two weeks, but found a way to beat the Nationals Friday night in Atlanta. While the Nationals are hanging onto first place in the division, winning key games versus the Braves would solidify a first place finish.
As the Nationals and Braves complete the remainder of this weekend’s series in Atlanta, the teams are eyeing six huge match ups in the month of September. Assuming that the two teams can keep the Miami Marlins in the third place spot, they will be battling for first in the division. The easiest way to lock up a division title is to beat their closest competitor head-to-head.
Over the last two seasons, the Nationals have struggled to find ways to beat the Braves in regular season series. In order to win against them in September, the Nationals must rely on their starting pitching to keep them in games. Pitching has gotten the Nationals to a 62-52 record and they need their starters and bullpen to support them down the stretch. On top of pitching, the Nationals will need offensive leaders Denard Span and Jayson Werth to create scoring opportunities.
Either the Nationals or Braves will finish the season on top of the NL East and both teams ought to treat their remaining series as playoff type competition if they intend to lock up that first place position.