The Washington Nationals (70-57) begin a three-game series with the N.L. Central-leading Chicago Cubs (69-58) on Friday afternoon.
The Washington Nationals head into Chicago one of the hotter teams in baseball. Winners of eight out of their last ten games, the Nationals are surging with solid starting pitching and out of this world offense.
Last weekend Washington squared off with the Milwaukee Brewers in a series with big wild card implications. The Nationals took two out of three from the Brew Crew, but this weekend they face an even better N.L. Central foe, the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs currently are in the lead in the N.L. Central by 0.5 games over the St. Louis Cardinals. This being said, they are just two games behind the Nationals record-wise, and will likely be battling with them for a wild card spot down the stretch.
With less than 40 games remaining in the season it will be hard for Chicago or St. Louis to pull away unless they go on a remarkable stretch, so whoever is in second place in the division will be battling with the Nationals for home-field in the wild card game.
This weekend series against the Cubs is big for the Nationals in many ways. First, if they are able to just win the series they can extend their lead to three games over Chicago in the standings. Second, after this series, Washington has five games against very poor teams in the Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins.
If they are able to beat Chicago in a series, there is no reason they should not win the Baltimore and Miami series, and they could go into Labor Day one of the hottest teams in all of baseball. Wrigley Field is never an easy place to play, but the Nationals sure seem up to the challenge.