Why do I like the Nats to sweep the Mets? Nats are a better team at home. Pretty simple. If you look at the pitching matchups, first one is Johan vs Detwiler. That sounds scary but Johan has not been the same since coming back from his season lost to injury. He might throw a gem, but you can't expect it. You have to give the game to Ross. If the Nats are going to be favored to lose a game it's #2 where an effective John Neise takes on a slumping EJax. The Mets offense, which was once surprisingly ok with guys outperforming expectations, has been below average after the break. Edwin should be able to handle them in a close one. The last game is Hefner vs Gio, and even though Hefner has been good recently, you're not picking against Gio, especially after a strong last start.
Since I said I'd do this every Friday, let's go over where the Nats stand right now. No more guessing, this is using exact games left to 162.
The Nats are 73-45. If they were to go .500 (and why would they - they are 73-45) to miss out on the playoffs the following things would have to happen.
(1) The Braves would have to go 26-18 in their final 44 games. That's a .591 Winning Percentage or a 95 win pace.
(2) Two of the following three things must happen.
- The Pirates must go 30-14. .682 winning percentage - 110 win pace.
- The Cardinals must go 31-13. .705 winning percentage - 114 win pace.
- The NL West 2nd place finisher, Giants or Dodgers must go 31-13.
The Nats situation is very different than the Red Sox or Braves. They both were WC teams with one team chasing them. That meant only two things were necessary for these teams to miss the playoffs. They had to collapse and the other team had to play well. The Nats though are division leaders and have an extra WC spot to deal with. That means four things have to happen. The Nats have to collapse and the Braves have to do well (knocking the Nats into the WC) and then two of the WC teams have to also play well enough to pass the Nats. That's just that more unlikely. You also have to consider when you are talking this many teams you run into the situation where they are playing each other. The Cards and Pirates play 6 more times, the Dodgers and Giants 9. If they split they don't make up ground in these games vs a .500 Nats team, if one team dominates the other team loses a bunch of ground.
Also what non-believers are suffering from is a proximity to two of the greatest chokes in the history of baseball. Last year the Red Sox and Braves both had epic collapses. The Red Sox's collapse is arguably the worst ever - like in history in 100+ years of baseball. No team had played so well to start the season and finished so poorly. Because it happened means it can happen but it doesn't make it more likely to happen. It is still a super-rare event. Your chances of winning the lottery don't go up just because your friend won last week.
Also this is all contingent on the Nats playing .500 ball. If they do better (as they should) the impossible becomes that much more impossibler. Since July 24th the Atlanta Braves have been red hot. They have gone 17-5. That's the type of run you fear at this point in the year. They have gained a half-game on the Nats. The Nats are playoff bound. Pennant? We'll talk about that next Thursday.