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Nationals Still in Striking Distance of Braves; Division Odds Improve to +600

Max Scherzer pitching for the Nationals
Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals are just 6.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Photo by Arturo Pardavilla (flickr) [CC License].
  • The Washington Nationals are 6.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East
  • Washington trails by just five games in the loss column, though
  • BetOnline lists the Nationals at +600 to win the division

The 2019 Washington Nationals are like a reluctant kid in learn-to-swim classes. They just keep treading water.

Every time you think that they might be poised to make a move on the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, the Nats shrivel up and let the opportunity escape them.

The Nationals currently sit 6.5 games behind the Braves. Washington is given +600 odds to overtake Atlanta in the NL Divisional odds.

2019 National League East Odds

Team Odds at Bovada
Atlanta Braves -400
Washington Nationals +600
New York Mets +1000
Philadelphia Phillies +1400
Miami Marlins +100000

*Odds taken on 08/12/19.

Washington is only five games behind Atlanta in the loss column and still two up on the surging New York Mets.

Nationals Insecurity

Just past the midway mark of July, Washington took two of four games from the Braves at Atlanta. The Nats followed up by winning three of four from the Colorado Rockies. They’d moved to within four games of the Braves.

This, though, is not a team that embraces opportunity or prosperity.

Since then, Washington has dropped four of five series. That included falling twice during a three-game home set against the Braves.

They completed a nine-game road trip Sunday with a win over the New York Mets at Citi Field to conclude the journey with their heads barely above water. Washington went 5-4 on the trip.

The Nationals are a mediocre 15-13 since the All-Star Break. They aren’t exactly charging down the Braves.

About That Bullpen

The Detroit Tigers were the American League version of the Nationals not so long ago. Like Washington, they boasted a sensational starting rotation. Heck, one starter – Max Scherzer – was part of both rotations.

Between 2006-14, Detroit made the playoffs five times and played in two World Series, but never came close to winning it all, because the Tigers didn’t bother to invest in a bullpen.

Sound familiar, Washington fans?

In Friday’s opener of the big three-game series against the Mets, Washington closer Sean Doolittle coughed up a 6-3 lead in the ninth and was walked off 7-6. Prior to Friday, the Mets had lost 187 consecutive games when down three runs in the ninth inning.

Washington owns an MLB-worst 6.07 bullpen ERA. Even if you were to discard the appalling 22.74 ERA of the departed Trevor Rosenthal, the Nats will still own an MLB-bottom 5.63 ERA. Nationals relievers have blown 22 of 52 save opportunities.

Even guys who earn their pay covering the national disgrace that resides in DC at the White House recognize that the Washington bullpen is a Nationals disgrace.

None But The Braves

Holding down the first NL Wild Card spot, the Nationals begin an important six-game homestand Monday against the Cincinnati Reds. That’s followed by three games with the Milwaukee Brewers, like the Reds a team in the Wild Card hunt.

This needs to be Washington’s focus. The old baseball adage is that you need a week’s worth of games to make up for one game in the standings. The Nats are 6.5 games out with seven weeks to play, so their division-winning window is closing fast.

Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals

70-50 Overall Record 62-55
32-25 Home Record 31-25
38-25 Away Record 31-30
37-32 Record vs +.500 Teams 29-37
647 Runs Scored 584
585 Runs Allowed 537

They have seven games left with Atlanta but would realistically need to go at least 5-2 in that stretch to have any chance. The Nationals play 17 of their last 45 games against Wild Card teams, 19 games against current playoff clubs and just 15 against teams with sub-.500 records.

The wisest move for Washington is forget about the division and lock in on locking down the Wild Card.

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