Game Guess grade : D- Totally wrong on Medlen. He was very good. Not shutout good - he got lucky in a couple innings that the Nats didn't cross one over the plate - but 7 innings 2 runs good at least. Detwiler didn't go the distance I said he would and mixed a power pitching beginning that flummoxed the Braves with a wild 5th that basically ended his night. I'll stop guessing now.
The Nats are 6 games up with 38 games to go. I want to call this division, but a collapse remains on the outskirts of possibility. With an 8 game lead the Nats would have to play the last quarter or so of the season at a 60 wins pace and the Braves at a 100 win pace for the Braves to take the crown. I just don't see that. With a six game lead that Braves pace can slow to a 90 win pace. Possible? I guess.
Really what does it for me is that remaining series. I believe you can pretty easily lose two games in the standings while blinking. If the Braves can get through this weekend (they are at the Giants, Nats are at Philadelphia) without losing any more ground, they should have a slight scheduling advantage the rest of the way to the final series. If you are wondering:
Braves : 3@SF, 3@SD, 3vPHI, 4vCOL, 3@NYM, 3@MIL
Nats : 3@PHI, 2@FLA, 3vSTL, 4vCHC, 3vFLA, 3@NYM
So if the Nats do lose two games in the standings before that next series and go into it with a ~4 game lead, well then a sweep means a ~1 game lead and a furious finish. If I can play out a reasonable scenario in my head, I have to hold off.
Of course this is all worst case thinking. I don't think the Nats will slump terribly, which would force the Braves to play at an incredible clip to take the pennant, and I don't think the Braves will play at an incredible clip. To narrow all this down to a single thought : Start thinking hard about where you'd place the NL East trophy but don't clear off the space just yet.
Obviously the Nats future is brighter with a healthy Strasburg, but don't get caught up in the "multiple WS" talk. Oh ok, if you define "multiple" as 2, which is technically a multiple since it's more than 1, then fine. The odds aren't good, but it does happen. Seven teams have done won 2 World Series in a 10 year period in the past 25 years. (Twins, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins, Yankees, Red Sox and Cardinals.) But if you are thinking 3+, of that group only the Yankees managed to win that 3rd. Going back to the next one before them you're going all the way back to the early 70's A's. Then you have to go back before divisional play to the Dodgers and Yankees of the late 50's, early 60's. It's very rare and understandably rarer in a time with a lot more playoff rounds. The Nats can be World Series contenders for a good stretch, but the most likely outcome of that is maybe one WS.
The Bryce mini-comeback that the media was all over is probably dead. 2-13 in the series, 0 walks and 6 Ks. I'm thinking that he's approaching this "occasional day-off" in the wrong way, trying real hard to hit his way back into playing every day (as opposed to 5 out of 6 days). Since Davey finall gave him a rest he's only taken 1 walk.
Nothing I've seen of Suzuki changes my mind. The Nats are going to be paying a hell of a lot for a back-up catcher the next few years.
Meanwhile Zimm keeps chugging along 5-12 for the series with 2 walks. He was hitting .218 on June 23rd and is hitting .285 now.
Werth has had four hits in the series, all doubles. He's been great since coming back. .373 / .455 / .522. Some guys aren't hitting but the Nats have decent bats at every position but one, so it's hard to find them every really struggle because 5+ guys don't usually go cold at the same time.