At this moment the NL East is the best division in baseball by record. The Mets are in 1st Place by a 1/2 game, followed by the Nationals who are ahead of the surprising Phillies by 1 game, and the Phillies are ahead of the Marlins by 1 1/2 games.
If the season ended today, the Wild Card game would be the Nats and the Phillies. There is still about 130 games remaining in this marathon and the NL East has shown it is built on pitching. Each team is built similarly, and each team has some glaring weaknesses. It will be the team that fixes its weaknesses that should win the NL East.
The Nats road trip that starts Tuesday of next week is the first head-to-head games with the NY Mets. The Nats have 4 games packed into 3 days this weekend in DC against the Marlins as they have the rain-out form earlier in the season to play on Saturday. There is a much needed day-off on Monday before the Nats head back on the road. There does not appear to be any easy games coming up.
The NL East picture will look very different after the May 25th series is complete in Washington against those same Mets.
What is Dusty Baker’s approach going to be with these Mets games? The one thing we saw with the Mets’ manager Terry Collins last year is that he was playing the Nationals like they were Game 4 of the playoffs and Matt Williams was managing like Game 4 of the regular season in April. The margin of victory in the standings was decided right there in those head-to-head match-ups where the Mets won 11 of 19 games in 2015. If the Nats won 12 of 19 last year from the Mets, it would have been the Nationals winning the NL East. That is a lot of “ifs”, but get ready for it as Terry Collins has seen the video from every second of those Cubs/Nats games from last week and is thanking Joe Maddon for the road map which is the same one that Brad Ausmus is using now.
Many of the Nats losses are coming on leaving the starters in as they are tiring. We saw that on Saturday with Gio and yesterday with Joe Ross. The Nats still are not making the tough plays on defense while the teams they are playing have been since the Nats left Kansas City. Balls near the ivy were game changers, doubleplay balls not turned, and bounces not going the Nats way.
Time to make your own luck.