Washington Nationals: Updated win total projections a bit baffling

Yadiel Hernandez #29 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Carter Kieboom #8 after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on August 25, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Yadiel Hernandez #29 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Carter Kieboom #8 after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on August 25, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Manager Davey Martinez’s crew was happy to see the calendar flip from August to September. A 7-20 win-loss record over the past month sent the Washington Nationals to an overall record of 55-76. Usually, September brings a bunch of fresh faces to the dugout with expanded rosters, and the Nationals get ready for the stretch run.

This year, with COVID restrictions in play, only two roster spots are added, and for the second consecutive year, the Nationals will not be playing meaningless games in the last full month of the season.

The website FiveThirtyEight released their updated win projections and the Nationals total has me scratching my head. The prediction is 70-92, meaning the Nats will play .500 baseball (well, a game below) the rest of the way.

What over the past four game losing streak, 2-8 stretch and 7-20 month, makes the analytics driven computers believe the Nationals are going to win 15 of their last 31 games?

Updated win projections have the Nationals finishing with a record of 70-92 on the season.

The schedule. With nine games in a row against National League East teams still fighting for the playoffs, the Nats will have their hands full. An easy stretch (relatively speaking) follows, with games against Pittsburgh, Miami, and Colorado. These teams won’t just roll over for the Nationals though. The Pirates series is on the road and a home/home with a Rockies team with 60 wins in a division which is the toughest in all of baseball, are no easy tasks. Anything can happen in the confines of Coors Field.

Seven of the last ten games are against the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox. Both teams are fighting to stay alive in their respective Wild Card races, and will look at the Nationals as must wins.

The bats. Teams have already proven they are not going to pitch to Juan Soto, leaving a group of inexperienced players to try and get the job done. Even though the Nationals have the fourth best batting average in the majors, they have scored more runs than just eight teams. Carter Kieboom may have found his home run stroke, but he’s the only one.

The pitching. How far can Erick Fedde, Paolo Espino, and Josiah Gray take them? Notice I didn’t mention Patrick Corbin and his six-plus ERA? Espino is approaching 100 innings pitched, something he hasn’t done since 2016. His ERA has ballooned of late. Gray and fifth starter, Sean Nolin, have yet to taste victory this year, and the bullpen is beleaguered.

The tank. There is a draft position to be had, and the Nationals are trying to get the highest pick they can.

Next. Nats CF, the new Browns QB jersey. dark

I am a fan, so I will cheer for the Nationals to win games for the next month. I just don’t think they are going to win half of them, leaving this win protection a little mind boggling.

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