If you live in Washington, you know that there is a drama playing out over the Nats’ playoff picture. Even though they will be in the playoffs, it is not sufficient to get there as a Wild Card team as that would mean they’d be in a one game playoff.
So for the young Turks, along with a few older hands, the Magic Number is Four. That, of course, means that any combination of Nats’ wins and/or Braves losses that add up to four in 14 games the two teams have remaining means they will be a full playoff team. And also important, they want to be the top seed in the NL playoff picture to gain home field advantages.
So why are lots of folks in Washington nervous? How hard should it be to get four of 14? The Braves are four games out of first place.
Well, the Nats’ aren’t doing quite so well in this last, meaningful stretch. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Braves are 8-2 over that same stretch and have won (their last) four games in a row.
Looking a little closer at the remaining games, the Nats play four games against the Phillies (including the final three games of the season). Those Phillies are no longer the whimpy team they were for much of the season. And the other three games the Nats have remaining are against the Cards, who are on an 8-2 streak and are also playing for a playoff spot.
The Braves last seven games are all against teams with records under .500. They have one game with the Marlins (2-8 in their last 10 games), three with the Mets (5-5) and three with the Pirates (3-7).
So the Nats have a harder schedule. Their present four game lead, however, is a big advantage.
Still, it is the final week of a very long season, they are without Strasburg, and even though their winning record is .606 (the only team with a record over .600), they have not yet been able to win their Division. Times are tense in this Capital City.
My sports’ writing guru Thomas Boswell has another good column this morning in the Washington Post in which he says the Final Week Isn’t for the Weak of Heart. See what he has to say.