Apr 30, 2015, 10:18 AM EDT
ATLANTA — The Nationals may have begun to right their wayward ship over the last two nights, hammering out 26 total runs against the Braves and (most importantly) winning a pair of games after losing six straight.
Whether that ship remains on course, though, now depends on what happens this weekend in New York, where the best-in-baseball Mets await for a 4-game set that could go a long way toward determining just how the NL East race is going to shape up through the first half of the season.
Big series? You bet.
The Mets currently lead the Nationals by six games — the lead had been eight games two days ago, before the Nats turned it around against the Braves and New York lost a pair in Miami — with four games set for this weekend at Citi Field. Now consider the various standings swings that could take place…
— If the Nationals sweep the series, they’ll be only two games back.
— If the Nationals take 3-of-4, they’ll be four back.
— If the two clubs split the series, the Nationals will remain six back.
— If the Mets take 3-of-4, they’ll increase their lead to eight games.
— If the Mets sweep, they’ll hold a commanding 10-game lead.
Yes, it’s only April 30, but how does an 8- or 10-game deficit sound to you right now?
“I think the only way we can look at it is: It would be nice if we could go in there and win the series,” center fielder Denard Span said. “Right now, we’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, even though it is ‘quote-unquote’ early. But we’ve just got to concentrate on winning one game at a time, and then winning series. If we do that, we’ll get back to where we should be.”
The Mets were expected to be an improved club this season, but most didn’t expect them to become among the biggest stories in baseball. Now, thanks to their 15-7 start (though they’ve lost 3-of-4) they’re the talk of New York. Which makes this weekend’s series a star-studded event in the Big Apple.
Stephen Strasburg vs. Jacob deGrom tonight. Max Scherzer vs. Matt Harvey on Friday night in the premier matchup of the series. Gio Gonzalez vs. Jon Niese on Saturday, with Doug Fister vs. Dillon Gee in Sunday’s finale.
No, this isn’t the be-all, end-all series for the 2015 Nationals. There’s so much baseball left to be played.
But this weekend does present both the Nats and Mets an opportunity to make a statement and establish how the NL East race will shaped moving forward.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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- Scherzer strikes out 10, leads Nationals over Mets 7-2
- Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Murphy dominated in Nationals' 8-3 win over the Mets