With 8 games remaining on the regular season schedule for the Washington Nationals, they still control their own destiny as they own the top spot in the Wild Card in a virtual tie with the Brewers because the Nats have two more games to play than the Brewers who have 6 games remaining. The Nationals postseason picture is solely focused on a Wild Card spot as the Braves have already clinched the NL East division crown.
The Wild Card game is set for Tuesday, October 1st and televised on TBS at 8 pm. The Washington Nationals have an 85-69 record prior to opening their final homestand. For those who like simple math, the Nats and Brewers based on today’s numbers would clinch a Wild Card spot with 89 wins because none of the other teams can mathematically reach 89 wins. If the Cubs and Mets lose another game, then 88 wins would clinch a Wild Card spot. Based on today’s numbers, if the Nats go 4-4 or better, they clinch a Wild Card spot.
The Nats still have to face the Cleveland Indians of the AL Central in interleague plus five games against the Phillies in a four day series (includes a doubleheader). After tonight’s game, the Indians are tied with Tampa for the second Wild Card spot so they are playing for their postseason lives. The Cubs and Mets are in a tough spot as any loss the rest of the way gets them closer to elimination and their Tragic number is 4. The Phillies have a Tragic number of 3.
What seems reasonable in a three or five game series? Fangraphs computers today believe the Nationals have a 97.9% chance of making the postseason, and 0.0% to win the division, and 5.2% to win the World Series, and they project the Nats to still win 89.1 games by going 4.1-3.9 the rest of the way. Okay, they are computer hedging as there are no fractional numbers.
The quicker the Nationals can clinch a Wild Card spot the better so they can rest their players, and especially Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and Victor Robles who have been playing every day. Turner has started 111 consecutive games, and the most time off he had was four innings for an early shower after he was ejected by an umpire on September 8th. Anthony Rendon has started 120 consecutive games with a few early exits.
“It’s September, you got to win every day,” Max Scherzer said. “That’s just how it is. You’ve got to win every day.”
Winning is the key, and to get to 89-wins here is what each team needs to do:
- Washington Nationals: 4-4
- Milwaukee Brewers: 3-3
- Chicago Cubs: 6-0 they can only reach 88 wins at best
- New York Mets: 7-0 they can only reach 88 wins at best
- Philadelphia Phillies: 8-0 they can only reach 87 wins at best
Here are the remaining schedules for each team:
- Nationals vs. Phillies (5), Nationals vs. Indians (3)
- Brewers vs. Reds (3), Brewers vs. Rockies (3)
- Cubs vs. Pirates (3), Cubs vs. Cardinals (3)
- Mets vs. Marlins (4), Mets vs. Braves (3)
- Phillies vs. Nationals (5), Phillies vs. Marlins (3)
On Wednesday, general manager Mike Rizzo discussed his rotation going forward. This is how the rotation could look for the remainder of the regular season:
- Monday vs. Philadelphia: Patrick Corbin
- Tuesday vs. Philadelphia (Game 1): TBD (could be Erick Fedde)
- Tuesday vs. Philadelphia (Game 2): Max Scherzer
- Wednesday vs. Philadelphia: Anibal Sanchez
- Thursday vs. Philadelphia: Stephen Strasburg
- Friday vs. Cleveland: Austin Voth
- Saturday vs. Cleveland: Patrick Corbin
- Sunday vs. Cleveland: Max Scherzer
That projected rotation is subject to being changed, and you have to believe the Nationals hope they can clinch a Wild Card spot by Friday to allow them to skip Corbin and Scherzer. If the Nats cannot skip them, Strasburg would line up to start the Wild Card game on Tuesday, October 1st.
“We have our horses lined up to pitch down the stretch depending on what the race looks like will determine who pitches game 162 then if we are fortunate enough who will pitch the Wild Card game,” Rizzo said. “If we are further fortunate, we will see who pitches the next series after that. We have it all planned out. We got a good strategy in the mind. Until then we will take it one game at a time. … I would assume [Max Scherzer for the Wild Card]. I think that is the way we have it set-up, but things could change, and who knows what comes on down the road. Max and Stras are our two guys. We are fortunate that we have three number one pitchers on this staff. Any of the three we feel confident running out there in an elimination game.”