The number is not zero. The number is 3.6 percent. That is better odds than it was on Friday. Yes, we are talking about the Washington Nationals chances of making the postseason. They don’t have to go 19-0 to make it into the postseason, but they probably need to go 15-4 to make the dance. Their current situation is bleak as they are the third worst team in the Nationals League at the moment. But because it is 2020, there are now eight postseason berths.
They did absolutely nothing at the trade deadline which made sense. But it also gave no obvious direction if the team saw an identity in this short-season. Maybe they just found it quicker than last year. It took the 2019 Nats a total of fifty games to figure out, and this 2020 team finally kicked it into high gear at thirty-six games. The issue is there are not 112 games remaining in the 2020 season. In one respect that is good and bad. It is good if you can go on an historic run. It is bad if you cannot because not only will you miss the postseason, but you also will have missed a primo draft position that the worst teams get.
This Nationals team sits at 16-25 at the moment winning four of five leading back into play tomorrow. The key is that 4-of-5. If the Nats can keep that exact pace the remainder of the season they will go the 15-4 they need to for a legitimate chance at a playoff spot. That is not guaranteed — but that gives them a real good spot to be in. They could maybe make it at 30-30 into the playoffs, but a 31-29 record seems like their chance. The playoff odds are also based on the five to seven teams in front of them because they have to leapfrog five teams to punch their ticket to the dance.
If you feel like you have been here before, you’re not alone. Can lightening strike twice for manager Dave Martinez and his team? The odds say “No” but we also know that Martinez is an optimist, and they like playing the underdog.
A frequently asked question is “why does Davey’s teams need improbable endings?” It is a fair question to ask and maybe this is the DNA of this team. They ratchet it up when the season or games are on the line. We saw it during most of the postseason. We saw it from mid-game on May 24th of 2019 to the end of the season.
General Manager Mike Rizzo built this team on starting pitching, and last year they had a formidable Top-4 in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Anibal Sanchez. This year Strasburg is injured, and Anibal Sanchez has not been good except for two starts, and Scherzer and Corbin have regressed. To pull off a run at the playoffs, they have to click each time for the rest of September with not only their Big-3, but the other two pitchers in the rotation of which one has an ERA north of 8.00.
Here is the remaining 2020 regular season schedule for the Nats:
- Atlanta Braves 4 games in Washington, D.C.
- Tampa Bay Rays 2 games in Tampa, Florida
- Miami Marlins 5 games in Miami, Florida (includes 2 doubleheaders)
- Philadelphia Phillies 4 games in Washington, D.C. (includes 1 doubleheader)
- New York Mets 4 games in Washington, D.C.
What does winning 4-of-5 translate to? Essentially the Nats must sweep one series and only lose 1 game or less in each of the other four series. A tall task. IMPROBABLE II.