The Nationals were swept by the Red Sox this week, and outscored 18-7 in the process. The shutout loss on Wednesday was the eighth time since June 1 Washington failed to score any runs, and the team’s record since is 9-20 — the most recent loss, their fifth in a row, pushed them under .500 on the season.
The Nats have had a very up-and-down 2018 to this point, and there’s been more down than up. They kicked off their March and April with a 13-16 record that saw them in fourth place in the NL East, 5.5 games behind the [checks notes] ... Mets? Sure, why not. In May, the Nats looked more like the team everyone expected them to be, outscoring opponents 119-71 to push them to a 20-7 record that left them half-a-game behind the Braves for first in the East at month’s end.
Since then, it’s been all downhill. Washington is, as said, 9-20 since June 1, and have been outscored 138-110 in that stretch. It’s who they’ve lost to that should make Nationals fans nervous, too: the Braves took three of four from them at the start of June, and the Phillies won both series against them during the month, too. The Nats sit seven back of the Braves and 5.5 behind the Phillies, who hold the second NL wild card at the moment. The Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants, and Rockies all sit ahead of the Nats in the wild card race.
There’s still hope for Washington, of course. It’s July 5, and the Nats have 77 games left on the schedule. The Braves are on pace for 93 wins, the Phillies 91. The Nationals, as of right now, are on pace for 80: they’ll need a significant turnaround to change that, but it’s not impossible with the talent assembled on the roster. It becomes more difficult by the day, however, as they already need to play a .675 pace the rest of the way in order to reach 94 wins.
Needing 94 wins assumes the Braves and Phillies both keep their current pace, obviously, which isn’t a guarantee. Neither is playing at a ridiculous level right now, though, and they’re still capable of easily outpacing Washington, so they’ve also got some wiggle room to fail. The Nats have no such space left: they’ve already used it all up with 77 games to go, and need to turn things around starting right now.
- Javy Baez stole home, and then explained afterward he believes stealing home is sexy. I don’t really have a counterpoint prepared for this.
- It’s July, so we’ve started grading trade rumors to give you a sense of how much ... well, sense a given rumor makes. First, there’s Cole Hamels, who is rumored to be a target of his original club, the Phillies.
- Then we’ve got the Dodgers, who have been connected to Orioles shortstop Manny Machado.
- Then there’s the Yankees, who have their eyes on Rays’ starting pitchers. Not the relievers who start games for the Rays, the actual starters.
- If you’re wondering how things are going for the Cardinals, Viva El Birdos is wondering what it’ll look like when Mike Matheny gets fired.
- Also at VEB, a counterpoint to the argument from earlier this week that the Cards should sell.
- Over the Monster is sorting out the Red Sox bullpen behind Craig Kimbrel and Matt Barnes.
- The Brewers are checking in on Manny Machado, too.
- Yankees’ rookie Gleyber Torres landed on the disabled list with a right hip strain.
- Shane Victorino is going to officially retire from MLB as a Phillie. Enjoy the leisure life, Shanf.