Coming off two disappointing losses to the N.L. East-leading Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals need a sweep this week in Miami.
The Washington Nationals had a golden opportunity to complete a 6-0 week against the division rival Philidelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. After completing the three-game sweep of the Phillies, Washington stole an emotional game on against Atlanta.
On Saturday, the Nationals’ bats went wild, giving them an 8-4 lead heading into the sixth inning. Washington was 12 outs away from winning the first two games of the series, and ensuring a critical series win. Then, as we have all become too familiar with seeing, the bullpen imploded.
Saturday night the Nationals’ bullpen blew four-run leads twice, eventually leading to a 13-9 defeat, and Sunday afternoon after the team rallied from two down in the seventh, Tanner Rainey blew the lead in the 10th leading to a 4-3 defeat.
Despite the outcome of the final two games, it was still a productive homestand for the Nationals. They still are 18-9 in their last 27 games and have cut their deficit behind the Phillies to just two games. Washington has also cut their deficit in the National League Wild Card race to just three games, and are only three teams for the second spot.
With the Nationals still sitting 8.5 games out in the division, the wild card seems like the best chance for Washington to make the postseason, and they have an excellent chance to make up some ground this week. The Nationals travel to Miami to take on the Marlins who are the worst team in the National League with a 30-46 record.
Washington could not have their pitching lined up more perfect for this series, as they have their three aces, Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg scheduled to face the fish. In their four series left before the All-Star break, the Nationals face the Marlins twice, the Detroit Tigers, and the Kansas City Royals. These are three of the worst four teams in all of baseball, and if the Nationals want to jump above .500 and into true contention, it needs to start now.
Sweeping Miami this week would give the Nationals a .500 record for the first time since April, and let them get past that mark and never look back.