Last night, primarily, was an emotional win for the Nats. Almost since the Nats arrived DC, the Phillies have been the bully on the block. Not only did this have to do with winning 90+ games and the division year after year, but they would literally come down to the Nationals home and embarrass them. Droves of fans coming into DC, sometimes invited by the Nationals franchise, to watch the Phillies beat up the Nats. From 2007-2010, when the Nats were at their worst, no team beat them like the Phillies. A 21-51 record for a .292 winning percentage only surpassed by a couple stray interleague opponents.
The Nats got a measure of revenge yesterday when former Phillie Jayson Werth, who chose to take the Nationals' big pay day and came over to the Nationals rather than sign for less and stay with the Phillies*, delivered the big hit to help win a game that fans felt they had to have. A win that punctuated the truth that in two short years, the former perennial basement dwelling Nats were in the playoffs and the former perennial penthouse dwelling Phillies, were not.
*PLEASE don't kid yourself. The #1 Reason Werth came here was the money. The #2 reason was money. The #3 reason was money. Did he think this team could be good during his contract? I bet so. But $ $ $. Also the Phillies fans were stupid because no one signs for less to stick around.
I get all this. I understand that this is the case. Yet what I thought when Werth hit that single was this :
Nice to get a couple of insurance runs to help the Nats in their quest for HFA throughout the National league playoffs.Not exactly "WOO HOO! Jayson Werth says SUCK IT PHILLY!" The Nats weren't likely to lose the game. They had a 1-run lead and had Drew Storen coming in. Storen has a 0.79 ERA in September. He's struck out 13 in 11 innings and walked none. He was going to face three hitters who were at best average in Nix, Rollins, and Mayberry. Even if they somehow end up losing the game, a 3 game division lead with 7 left is still rather unlikely to be lost. If the Nats were to go 3-4 in their last 7 the Braves would have to go 6-1.
I just want to have this out there because as the playoffs go on you won't be getting the shared highs and lows from me you probably will from every other Nats blogger. I know that's part of the reason you guys come here but there's a good chance some new eyes will be on these pages come playoffs and I wanted to have something out there that at least says "I warned you"
So how likely are the Nats to go 3-4? Here are the upcoming games and the probable pitchers (listed already for the Cards series, guessed for the Phillies one) and what I think about them.
Cloyd @ Gio
This should be an easy Nats win. The Phillies hate lefties. Gio is one of the best in the game. Cloyd is one of those meh major league pitchers that the Nats have been beating up lately
E Jax @ Wainwright
ZNN @ Lohse
Det @ Lynn
This is admittedly a tough stretch for the Nats. Wainwright is a good pitcher. Lohse has been great this year. Lynn has been fantastic recently after hitting a rough patch mid-season. In the Nats favor is that E Jax is also good and ZNN can be great, too. Plus the Cards prefer to face lefties. I don't like the Nats to win the series but they shouldn't be swept.
Kendrick @ Lannan
Cloyd @ Gio
Lee @ E Jax
Lee hasn't been that pitcher this year, so don't make that game a slam dunk for the Phils. No, the slam dunk is again, Cloyd v Gio. I also like Lannan to win his game.
Overall I see a 4-3 finish to the Nats season. What about the Braves?
Turner @ Hanson
Hanson hasn't been good and Turner has been but there more talent in Hanson that Turner, and with the Braves being a better hitting team I'd go with a Braves win here.
Niese @ Hudson
Young @ Minor
Mejia @ Medlin
You have to like Medlin to win, but Hudson vs Niese is another one like Hanson v Turner that the pitching could go either way. I like Young more than Minor but it's not like either of these guys are good**. I like the Mets to take 1. Or more accurately I like the Braves to be 3-1 in this first four.
Maholm @ Locke
Hanson @ Correia?
Hudson @ Burnett?
** my Braves friend says Minor is good. Looking at his stats...ok maybe. But I don't like him anymore than Young
Locke isn't good so you like the Braves to take that one. The Pirates have shown interest in wanting to get some young arms out on the mound but I would hope that if the Braves and Nats are still fighting for a pennant they would put out their good arms. I like the teams to split those last two in that instance.
So a 5-2 finish for the Braves. They gain 1 more game and finish 3 games out. Nat clinch on that first game of the last Phillies series. That would be my guess. If I'm off by a game for both (Nats go 3-4, Braves 6-1) the Nats still take the division probably clinching in the 2nd Phillies game (then losing a meaningless game in the standings on that last day).
Hmm I admit this is a lot closer than I thought, but I can't see the Braves sweeping the rest of the season because that is just too much and I can't see the Nats winning less than 2 games since those Gio games are so heavily in favor for the Nats. So I can't see that Nats falling into anything worse than a tie and that's worst case scenario here. Really we are assuming ALOT of the Braves. One errant loss in a game they should win, which happens all the time in baseball, and this is all pretty much over for everyone, not just me.