The Washington Nationals' chances of reaching the postseason this year are slim, but third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is doing everything he can to help. The 28-year-old is on fire in September, swatting eight home runs in his last 10 games to help the Nationals to a 9-2 record for the month. Washington is unlikely to make up its 11-game deficit in the NL East, but remains within reach of the second Wild Card -- the Nationals trail Cincinnati by only 5½ games with 17 to play.
Zimmerman's latest long ball came in the first inning on Thursday off of Mets starter Aaron Harang. He later added an RBI double to pad Washington's lead, and the Nationals went on to complete a four-game sweep of New York and extend their winning streak to six games. Overall in September, Zimmerman is batting .291/.346/.813 in 52 plate appearances; he has also driven in 11 runs in that 11-game span. Zimmerman, who is in his ninth year in the Nationals organization, is not the only hot hitter in the lineup -- Jayson Werth has a 1.030 OPS in September, and Denard Span is in the midst of a 23-game hitting streak during which he is batting .385.
In addition to their current 9-2 run, the Nationals are 17-5 over their last 22 games. Their remaining schedule has its ups and downs, though. They start a 10-game homestand on Friday against the Phillies (bad), Braves (good) and Marlins (godawful), before traveling to St. Louis (good) and Arizona (solid) for their final six games. Their current run of success has come mostly against bad teams like the Cubs, Marlins, Mets, and Phillies, so the quality opponents they will see for the rest of the month will present a serious test.
The Nationals will receive a boost in their upcoming four-game series against Miami, though -- rookie phenom Jose Fernandez has been shut down for the season after reaching his predetermined innings limit, so Washington won't have to face him again this year. In two 2013 starts against the Nationals, Fernandez allowed only one run in 13 innings.