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Under .500, yet still in the playoff race

Aug 17, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

USA Today

Before Sunday, the Nationals had enjoyed rare success against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. They had beaten him in their previous five matchups, they crushed him on the Fourth of July and they even gave him his only loss in the 2014 postseason.

Naturally, that was not to continue forever, and Bumgarner finally broke through at what was the worst of times for the Nationals. The Giants lefty carved up the Nats in nine shutout innings with 14 strikeouts, one walk and just three hits allowed on Sunday. The 2014 World Series MVP also added a home run (his 4th of the season) and an RBI double. He’s the first pitcher since Steve Carlton in 1977 to strike out 14 and hit a home run in the same game.

The Nationals didn’t even move a runner past second base in Sunday’s 5-0 loss. All three hits Bumgarner allowed were singles. He also set a career-high by getting the Nats to miss on 46 percent of their swings. His previous best was 29 percent.

It was another awful performance for the Nats in a long string of them. They are now losers of six straight – matching their longest losing streak since 2009 – and sit at 10-20 since the All-Star break. Sunday’s defeat moved them to 58-59 on the year, or below the .500 mark for the first time since May 6.

Add it all up and the details are frightening. The Nationals have a losing record on August 17. In almost any other year or any other division in baseball, their season would essentially be over. The obituaries would already be written. Better luck next year.

How could they possibly still be in the playoff race, despite them playing arguably their worst baseball since Mike Rizzo took over as GM? Well, fortunately for the Nats, they are in one of the worst MLB divisions in recent history.

The 2015 Washington Nationals may simply not be a good team, but neither are the 2015 New York Mets. While the Nats were getting their clocks cleaned by the Giants, the Mets were also looking like the inferior club against a team with a better record.

The Mets were swept by the Pirates over the weekend, so the Nationals did not lose any ground in the division race in the last three days. The deficit remains at 4 1/2 games in the division, despite a 9 1/2 (!) game hole in the NL Wild Card race. If it weren’t for the NL East being so terrible, the Nationals would be toast.

But, as several Nats players will tell you, they just have to beat the Mets. Right now New York is on pace to win just 86 games. If they won the NL East with just 86 wins, they would be the worst division winner since the 2008 Dodgers who went 84-78.

Every once in a while this type of thing happens in the NFL, where a team will win its division with a losing record or not much better. It starts up debates about the division format itself and whether it rewards teams that have no business being in the playoffs. That’s basically what is happening here. Neither the Nationals or Mets looks deserving of a playoff spot right now, but that is the reality we face.

It may be a terrible thing for the Giants, for example, who right now sit outside of the final playoff spot despite holding a better record than the division-leading Mets. But for the Nats, it’s a gift of incredible luck. This team is on pace to be worse than the 2013 club that missed the playoffs. Yet they are still within striking distance of repeating as division champs.

Now, that shouldn’t make any Nationals fan feel particularly good about how the team is playing right now. They aren’t playing up to their capabilities whatsoever, especially given their relative health at this point. They have run out of excuses and they just keep on losing.

But the current state of the NL East should give Nats fans at least a small glimmer of hope, that it’s not all over yet. The Nationals could still turn this thing around and make something of what is inching closer to being a lost season.

Of course, we’ve been saying some variation that for weeks now, and time is legitimately running out. They have 45 games left to figure it out, but somehow they still have a chance.

  1. wmlsays - Aug 17, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    Until they win a game, they have no chance. Until they win seven of their next nine games, they don’t have much of a chance. It’s what they dug for themselves. They’re not a great team. They’re not a good team. They’re one of many mediocre teams in the league. They have regressed and while people keep saying that Rizzo is not to blame, that he is one of the greatest minds in baseball, the results speak for themselves.

    • Sam - Aug 18, 2015 at 11:37 AM

      I agreed with you until you started blaming Rizzo for a month of bad baseball.

      The results do speak for themselves: 98 wins in 2012; 96 wins in 2014; third most wins in baseball since 2012 (including this crappy season).

  2. stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Mini-earthquake (4.2) in greater SF area moments ago. I’m gonna say it was the Nats hitting bottom. Things are about to get better.

    • dryw4nats - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:16 AM

      I like that! It’s all about how you interpret the omen.

  3. kiawah51 - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    Put a fork in them.

  4. senators69 - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    To state the obvious…Denver feels like the fulcrum series.

    • stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      Anyone who watched the Mets implode yesterday as they got swept by the Pirates could plainly see all the signs of impending choke. Frankly, they looked as bad as anything we’ve seen from the Nats recently…. airmailed throws to nowhere, mistakes covering the bases and fundamental mistakes in the field, run scoring wild pitches, the whole bad scene.

      But if the Nats can’t put pressure on them it won’t matter. If they can, starting tomorrow, things could get interesting. For all the Mets euphoria, you know that just barely under the surface the team and its fans are just wondering when the collapse will come.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:29 AM

        My consistent opinion has been that the NL East race is a matchup between a resistable force chasing a catchable object. But one of them is going to go to the playoffs, and the beauty/agony of the baseball postseason is that any team can win a short series, so everyone has a solid shot at success. From the 2014 Royals and Giants all the way back to the 82 win NL Champion 1973 Mets, who beat the Big Red Machine in the NLCS and took the “Threepeat” A’s to a seventh game of the WS.

        Neither of these teams is particularly good. One of them is going to have a decent chance at making the World Series.

        The real agony here is for the Pirates, who may well end up with the second best record in all of MLB, only to be “rewarded” with a rematch with Madison Bumgarner in the Wild Card game (if the Giants can catch the Cubs).

      • edgs3rd1978 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM

        That’s absurd. The Mets/Pirates battled throughout all 3 games until the rain delay in the final game. One ball bouncing another way could have been the difference in both game one and game two. You are right though, I am upset with the results against the Pirates series, and even more at our record against above-500 teams. However, we have one of the easiest schedules in all of baseball over the next 6 weeks – and we are 48-28 against sub-500 teams (guess we can officially include the Nats in that category).

  5. Ellie - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    I think the thing that gives me hope is that in order for the Nats to make the postseason at this point, they have to be playing spectacular baseball the rest of the way.

    It’s very often NOT the teams that win close to 100 games that have the most postseason success. It’s the ones that are playing their best baseball in September and October. The times the Nats won the division before, especially last year, they kind of coasted to the finish line and then underperformed in October.

    That can’t possibly happen this season. If they’re going to make it at all, they must be playing well, so…. IF they make it to the postseason, I like their odds there a lot better than the last couple of times.

    • Ellie - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:17 AM

      (yeah, yeah, cart, horse, I know…)

    • stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      I agree. IF the Nats get there they’ll almost certainly be well positioned to do better than they have in the past.

      It would almost certainly be Dodgers in the first round and if you nick Kershaw or Greinke in one of the games out there….

      But let’s actually WIN A GAME first.

    • Section 222 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      Not to nitpick, Ellie, because I very much agree with your overall point — the Nats need to get hot both to win the division and do well in October. But in 2014, the Nats were 19-8 in September and won 9 of their last 11 games, including JZnn’s no-hitter on the last day of the season. They weren’t coasting. They had everything going for them last year — hot at the right time, home field advantage, time to rest and line up the rotation, and more. That’s what made the collapse in the playoffs so disappointing.

      But not as disappointing as missing the playoffs this year, after they acquired Scherzer and with Bryce having a year worthy of The Babe. So yes, if they manage to squeak in, perhaps the stars will be aligned to go deep in the playoffs.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:51 AM

      Not to rain on this parade, but there has been very little correlation found between September record and October success. A good record does not make success more likely, and a bad record does not make success less likely overall.

      Most spectacularly, the 2000 NY Yankees went 3-15 down the stretch … and won the World Series anyway.

      But whatever result, we can spin a narrative for it. If a team finishes strong and then wins in October, they were “playing their best baseball of the season” and that’s the reason they won. If they lose, they “weren’t pushed” (the 2014 Nationals went 19-8 in September, and were 52-28 after July 31). If a team sprints to the finish but fails, then the “magic ran out.” If they stumble to the end of the season but win anyway, then they “rallied” or “flipped the switch” or some other narrative. There’s always a narrative. But the narratives are results driven, and are not useful for predicting the future.

  6. bowdenball - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:22 AM

    It’s crazy to think that if the Nats sweep the Rockies they likely will come home just three games behind the Mets, assuming they split with the Orioles. If the Orioles sweep the two game set the Nats simply need to win the series in Denver to come home within 3 games of the Mets.

    It has to start now, though, and they need some help. 3 games is obviously doable, even 4 games seems possible, but 5 games may be too much given the Mets’ remaining schedule after they get past the Orioles this week.

  7. bowdenball - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    “It may be a terrible thing for the Giants, for example, who right now sit outside of the final playoff spot despite holding a better record than the division-leading Mets”

    The Giants won the World Series with an 88 win team last year. If you hear any of their fans complain please feel free to punch them in the mouth.

    • Section 222 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      Not only that, they’ve won it 3 of the last 5 years. They don’t get to complain for at least the next two decades0

  8. micksback1 - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    I was able to download a secret meeting between the Lerner’s and MW last evening, here it is with MW’s explanation about the team’s problems. LOL enjoy:

    • Section 222 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      heh, heh, heh.

  9. patrickthand - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    Has Mike Rizzo given Matt Williams a vote of confidence? Have any Nat players made public statements of support for Williams? If so, I haven’t read about them.

    • scnatsfan - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      I read the other night that Rizzo said he sees nothing negative in any of the decisions MW has made… but I can’t quote a source. I think after saturday nights game. I remember because it made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

    • stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      I thought that Rizzo’s comments were generally supportive but fell many miles short of a vote of confidence.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:53 AM

        Meh. If he gives a “vote of confidence” it is invariably noted as the “dreaded vote of confidence” that seems to come at some point before every managerial firing.

  10. micksback1 - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    In all seriousness…any objective fan can not be optimistic about a turn around at this point. There is something structurally wrong within the team and I have a good source who works for the Nats that says that there has been serious division among the players verse other players that has existed even before the team’s collapse. Whether that is MW’s fault or not, who knows? My source has been with the Nats since 2008 so I trust this person.

    I have two questions for the team:

    1) Will there be a players only meeting? If not, WHY??

    2) Will there be a pow wow with MW and players to hammer out what everyone’s personal gripes are, if not, WHY?

    Also, after reading over the weekend that Ted Lerner lost a 31 million dollar law suit, it reminded me of two things:

    1) Bad karma always comes back on bad people.

    2) I like Mark Lerner, he is a good man, but, Mr. Ted is not such a good guy. He is the antithesis of Abe Pollin. Abe was a great man, a loyal man, a fair man. In fact too fair. In the late 60’s and through the 1970’s he had a great basketball team that went to 4 NBA finals and won a World Championship. He stuck with his GM too long and yes, there is plenty to criticize Abe on as an owner but he tried and was decent and he has one more world championship and 4 more conference finals than Ted. Ted, not so nice, lawsuit after lawsuit, breaking agreements with leases, etc. The St Alban vs Wilson HS incident in 2008, etc. Mark needs to run the team and Ted needs to sit back and stay the hell out of the team’s dealings!

    maybe bad karma has caught up and as another poster said last week, maybe the team’s way of treating good players, who were playing well in a classless way and other players not playing well with a longer rope, all caught up.

    • senators69 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:52 AM

      Interesting post…thanks.

      If the clubhouse division you state is correct and if MW or Rizzo is a real leader, one of them should get together (individually and then collectively) with the leaders of the factions to try to obtain consensus. Then maybe a players meeting would be helpful or even one with MW and/or Rizzo there. But such a meeting could spiral out of control unless conversations are held beforehand.

      Regarding your characterization of the Lerners, they have acted great with the Nats so far. However, the real test comes with adversity. Will they then be the 1000 lb gorilla and smash everything or will they act with decisive measured reason.

      While one may be able to draw some threads from their past non-baseball dealings, if you have not been privy to the business discussions, you cannot have concrete conclusions. The Lerners did not become rich by being patsies or playing nice-nice. In business there are only shades of gray. Business dealings are often gloves off, no holds barred, from both sides. Labeling someone good or bad in business dealings is a useless exercise unless there is corruption involved, and I’m don’t think you are accusing the Lerners of such action.

      Again, we’ll see some true colors if the Nats adversity continues.

      Regarding your comment about treating good players in a classless way (read: Storen and perhaps Espi) while giving other non-performing players a longer rope (read: Werth, RZimm, Desi, Rendon), it has nothing to do with karma, only with the strategy of patience and expectations of a (quick) return to past levels. That strategy has not really paid off so far, and it is way past the time for alternatives. If a playoff run were real, Cespedes (or good alternative) should be a Nat by now.

  11. stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:59 AM

    There was no “objective reason” to expect that, post ASB, Ian Desmond would be hitting .272 with an .880 OPS, but there he is.

    Need a couple more like that. Do we feel lucky?

  12. micksback1 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    Before I hit the beach let me add one more point, the players not only look flat, they look like a team who has quit, heartless and “gutless” Either these guys are very over rated or the team has quit for reason that nobody outside the team really knows. All the garbage stats, mean nothing, this is a collapse that goes well beyond stats, fan zines, etc.. Only a delusional homer would think other wise. I think there is talent on this team, so the latter is what is causing perhaps the worst DC sports team collapse ever.

    with that, its time to get some more rays!!

    • therealjohnc - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:57 AM

      Disagree. A heartless/gutless team doesn’t put up a four spot to turn a 6-1 game on the road into a 6-5 nailbiter. As fans there is an overwhelming default narrative that a losing team has “quit” or “doesn’t care.” It just “seems obvious” because hey, look at those results! If the team cared, would they be playing this badly? Quite possibly yes.

      • zmunchkin - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:02 PM

        Caring too much quite often is worse than caring at all. These guys are prideful. To say they don’t care is silly.

      • NatsLady - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:41 PM

        Not only are they prideful (and professional) but they know they have a 20-8 run in there–somewhere. They just can’t find it, can’t put the pieces together. Recent history: Two losses came unexpectedly (Storen). Three losses came from the rotation (Scherzer twice and Gio). I charge one loss to Matt because he left Joe Ross in with a 2-1 lead in the 7th, should have gone with Rizzo’s plan–as he did the next day, probably under strict orders. Two losses came when the starter gave up exactly one run (Zimmermann against Kershaw), and two runs (Strasburg).

      • jd - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:20 PM


        There’s too much rationalization here. When most of the team is under performing and in all aspects of the game you can still dissect each loss but it’s putting your head in the sand to not see that there is something wrong here. Sorry but when you have such a level of failure the people in charge have to answer for it.

        When Wilson Ramos watched an almost home run into a single and was allowed to continue playing as if this is routine, when the Nats infield made like the bad news bears on a simple run down play which cost the team a base and ultimately a run and that was allowed to happen I could only surmise that this team (led by it’s manager) has lost it’s way.

      • jd - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        I am not questioning the desire or even the possibility of a big run to the finish line. I question whether this is probable or even likely given what we have seen lately. I think that doing nothing really puts the entire season at risk. I think the Mets are very catch able particularly since we play them 6 more times, I just don’t think the Nats as presently run are likely do this.

  13. chaz11963 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    It’s just incredibly disappointing given the level of expectations for this team. I think I’m mostly disappointed in Werth, Rendon, Ramos, Desi, and the starting pitching. The bullpen has also been a complete mess, but that was a problem going into the season and not a surprise. So, what is the underlying cause for the shocking under-performance; slow return from injuries? bad year? aging-regression? Probably a combination of all of these…but the starting pitching? What the heck happened there?!

    • scnatsfan - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      Its amazing we fell so far so fast

    • raleighnat - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:51 PM

      When you really get down to it, too many of the players have simply not been performing. We have too many players that are either regressing, playing below their perceived potential and, on top of that, many have been injured a lot.

      Hot or cold lately, Desmond has had a terrible year. So has Ramos. Rendon, Werth and Zimmerman have all been out and underperformed. Fister fell of the face of the earth, Zimmermann hasn’t had a steller year, Strasburg has pitched poorly overall and been injured. There have just been too many poor performances from players that were needed.

      And what’s also interesting is that many of the surprise performances haven’t been sustained. You could just feel we had gone to the well one too many times with Scherzer, Ross, and Storen. Sure enough, they start to throw in duds and no one has rotated into the higher performance group.

      I am not thrilled with Williams – I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for pulling Zimmermann in Game 2 last year and I’ll never understand why he puts a guy like Barrett in a high leverage situation, etc. But he really isn’t the problem. The problem is that too many players have, rather unexpectedly, stunk up the joint.

  14. edshelton2013 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Rizzo was quoted recently as saying “I’ve always said complimentary things about Matt Williams”.
    Just as he does with an impending trade, we never have a clue that it’s coming, then it happens.
    He’ll continue to support MW publicly, until he fires him.

    • Section 222 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM

      I agree. I doubt Rizzo will fire MW before the end of the season, but if he does, no one will see it coming.

      • senators69 - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:57 AM

        Agree. But I sense almost 100% certainty that MW will be fired after the season if they don’t have a solid playoff run. That said, it would be telling if such a run does not happen AND MW stays. But in that case, we will probably not know the real driver for his staying — (a) Rizzo to coach MW up? (b) Lerners not wanting to pay dead money to MW (c) Rizzo pride (d) etc — or some combination.

      • Section 222 - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:00 PM

        I tend to agree that MW is fired after this season if the Nats fail to make the playoffs. But if they manage to turn things around and win the division, I’ll bet he gets another chance, even if they make another early exit.

      • jd - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:39 PM


        If Rizzo waits until the end of the season, stays with his guy and the Nats fail he will have a hell of a time protecting his own job. I don’t think the Lerners agreed to spend $163 mil in 2015 with the anticipation of a .500 team.

  15. NatsLady - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:57 AM

    I just wrote up Rendon for fantasy. Usually I only do pitchers and injuries but one of the guys who does position players is out of the country, so– my turn. I didn’t realize it was this bad. Rendon had one hit in the four-game Giants series, that ninth-inning single in what was basically garbage time. He faced Vogelsong, Peavey and Matt Cain, plus various relievers and that’s all he got. He didn’t take a walk, and struck out six times.

    Since his return from a month-long DL stint on July 25, Rendon has hit .208/.287/.286 with one homer, two RBI and five runs scored in 21 games (87 PAs).

    That can’t continue, right? He will hit, right?

    • NatsLady - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      Ryan Zimmerman, who went on a little streak there for a while, has gone 1 for 19, and he also hasn’t taken any walks. Yunel Escobar, who opened a lot of eyes, is hitting .225/.288/.363 since the All-Star break. He hasn’t struck out a lot (13) but he’s walked even less (7)

      You can move Werth down in the order, but you can’t move everyone down.

  16. Another_Sam - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    No matter how spectacularly the Mets implode, there’s no race if this crew continues to eke out three hits a game.

    • stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:15 PM

      Can’t dispute that.

      But I saw what I saw yesterday in the Mets v Pirates game. With a little pressure applied their collars would tighten considerably. Let them off the hook, though, and it will make no difference.

  17. langleyclub - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    Don’t agree that the team has quit. A combination of career awful years from Desmond, Werth, Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman and Fister; plus injuries to Rendon, Werth, Strasburg and Span has led to sub .500 record with 45 to play. Don’t think MW can be blamed for the fact that essentially every presumed starter other than Harper, Escobar and Scherzer has had a disappointing year.

    I am Rizzo fan, but have hard time getting why most of the blame is being cast on MW rather than the guy (Rizzo) that put this team together (although in retrospect, Rizzo does deserve credit for not signing Desi, Fister and Jordan Zimmerman, and even apparently injury prone Span, to expensive long term deals; can you imagine if the Nats we were locked into the same team for next year with a payroll that would allow for no flexibility?). Offensively, the lineup is too right-handed dominant and strikes out too much. Also, the bench is weak. I have always been a Tyler Moore fan, but he and Dan Uggla are essentially the same player (only tool is power; no other skills; no defensive flexibility) and while the scouting department made a nice find in Cliff Robinson; he also is a defensive liability; so, anyone managing team does not have a lot of buttons to push.

    On the mound, pitching is always so hard to predict, but with the season 3/4 over, the greatest rotation in baseball has one starter with more than double digit wins, and 4/5 of the rotation has been pretty average at best. Again, don’t see how MW can be faulted for the pitching staff’s collective underperformance.

    Things look bleak, but either way the Nats will have to play the final 45 (against an unbelievably weak schedule); 30-15 will probably not happen, but the Nats had that type of run in May and early June. So, lets see happens.

    Regardless, this team is going to look very different in 2016.

  18. zmunchkin - Aug 17, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    Boswell ha an unscheduled chat today (supposed to be on vacation). Lots of talk me down off the ledge questions. His reponses are pretty interesting and insightful IMO.

    • NatsLady - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:10 PM

      Thanks for posting this.

      Consider the Angels, who won 98 games last season. They let go of Hamilton, who was not performing and got a bunch of middle-level guys at the trade deadline to fill some holes. Right now the Angels are 60-57, 3.5 games behind the Astros (yes, the Astros!) and 1/2 game back of the 2nd wild card. In other words, the “best” team in the AL last year wouldn’t make the playoffs if the season were over today.

      Meanwhile, you know who might have a chance? Just as good a chance as the Angels? The Rangers, who were dreadful last year due to millions of injuries. They lost 95 games. Funny thing. They traded for Cole Hamels and everyone said, OK, that’s for next year. Is it?

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      Wait a minute. The Nats had such a bad week that the Post called Boswell back from vacation to chat about it? That’s like back in the day when Brezhnev would have a “cold” and they’d put the Moscow correspondent on call 24/7. If I was Matt Williams right now I’d be getting worried.

  19. natsjackinfl - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    Again, while the baseball being played by the Nats lately had me describing it to my buddy as “unwatchable”, I still hold that a turnaround is not out of the question. I even posted last week that I expected the Nats to drop to about 6 games out by the end of this road trip and that still may happen. And I also said that I would not bail on them until it is actually, you know, over.

    I am still going to Miami on September 11 and 12 to watch the Nats and I would not be surprised to still be trailing the Mets but by no more than 3 games, again, not an unheard of deficit which can be overcome. I believe that’s what is called a pennant race for the Division crown.

    I plan to watch it till it’s over.

    • natsjackinfl - Aug 17, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      Much like Chauncey Gardner in Being There, I like to watch.

      • stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:07 PM

        As a fan of execrable Senators teams of the late fifties and the sixties I learned to enjoy watching baseball without the remotest possibility, let alone expectation, of championships.

        Winning is more fun than losing but baseball is a game where you have to expect to lose 2 of 5 at best. So it’s good to learn to accept that like an adult.

      • senators69 - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:49 PM

        Stoatva — with you, bro!

    • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:20 PM

      Agree on the ‘unwatchable’ baseball over the past couple of weeks. And agree with others who have used various versions of the ‘dug themselves a deep hole’ metaphor. But there’s still three weeks until Labor Day (which is late this year), and — to me, at least — that’s an important check-the-standings point. I’ll reserve my throwing-in-the-towel e-mail until I see what the NL East looks like on Sept. 7.

      • bowdenball - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:12 PM

        If you’re gonna wait that long you should wait another two days, since September 7 is the opener of a three game series at home vs the Mets!

      • jd - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:31 PM


        As I’ve said several times if the Nats are 5 games back and there are 6 games left I’ll watch and be as engaged as ever, I quit when the numbers say it can’t be done any more. I also think that the Mets are very likely to keep dropping games. Their ‘new vaunted offense’ could had a hard time scoring any runs against the Bucs 4.5.6 starters. The question for me is this: is the Nats team run by Williams et all likely to fins it’s mojo and play winning baseball for the last quarter of the season or is is more likely that a change at the top will spark this run?

        I don’t know the answer, I do know that the Nats kept all their impending free agents in the belief that this is a team primed for a title run. Quite frankly I don’t know how a complete failure (no playoffs) will go over with the owners.

    • jd - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:14 PM


      Your points are reasonable but one must admit that in any other year any other division we are toast. How do we go from a 96 win team to a team that can’t get out of it’s own way?

      How is it that just about every one is under performing? you can only go with the injury story this far but you know the Cardinals have been without Wainwright all year and Adams most of the year, the Mets without Wheeler all year and Wright most of the year and on and on.

  20. joemktg - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    Day off in Colorado. Perfect place to chill out, unwind, clear out your head. I’ve read that there are plenty of establishments in Colorado to assist in such an endeavor.

    • natsjackinfl - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:26 PM

      With how this club has taken to striking out, maybe a day at a bowling alley is in order.

      • stoatva - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:34 PM

        I don’t think that’s the kind of bowl he was referring to.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:22 PM

        HAHAHAHA…. This was funny.

    • senators69 - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:51 PM

      But wouldn’t that violate the MLB drug policy?

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 17, 2015 at 1:57 PM

        Peformance enhancing? Not so sure.

  21. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    Glad the guys are off today. Hopefully they can use this day to all go to dinner and just relax. Man, going 1 – 6 in California hurt but thanks to the Pirates, it wasn’t as devastating as it could have been.

    • jd - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:36 PM

      It was pretty devastating. I listened to the Mets radio broadcast yesterday afternoon (at the end of their game) and their broadcasters could not believe that the Mets were getting a mulligan. They were also shocked at how far the Nats have fallen and were wondering out loud how Matt Williams can survive this.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:41 PM

        I was on vacation but becuz the games were so late, I could listen to them. I was flabbergasted by it, honestly I was. I was just kinda sitting there numb during Game 2 against the Giants and thinking to myself, I cant believe this mess.

        Hurts even more becuz if we had just won 3 of the games against the Giants while the Pirates swept, that is 3 games right there that we cut the lead.

        To only win 1 game in California is just bad.

        I am tired of talking about the team’s manager. Been sour on him since last year and Ive made my feelings known on him for quiet a while so I will leave it there.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 17, 2015 at 3:23 PM

        In light of all the negativity and trolling I posted some thoughts here.

        I won’t be approving some posters to try to keep it positive while also having constructive criticism.

  22. rabbit433 - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:33 PM

    The headline says still in the playoff race. For that matter, so is Atlanta!

  23. patrickthand - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:44 PM

    On August 23, 1964, with only 39 games remaining, the Cardinals were in fourth place, 11 games out. The won the pennant and the World Series.

    • rlndtln - Aug 17, 2015 at 7:41 PM

      The sad part I am old enough to remember that vividly.I believe it was worse than that.If I remember the Phils were up 8 or 9 with 10 or 11 to go.

      • rlndtln - Aug 17, 2015 at 7:52 PM

        Just went to Google and saw a video on the Phillies collapse.They were up 6 1/2 games with 12 to go.And finished 2nd.They lost 10 in a row.We are in great shape compared to that.

      • patrickthand - Aug 17, 2015 at 7:55 PM

        They were 6 1/2 up on the Reds with 12 to play, 7 1/2 up on the Cards. Phils then lost 10 in a row. The Cards could have clinched a day earlier but the Mets (who would finish 53-109) inexplicably won the first two games of their season-ending series with the Cards at old old Busch Stadium.

  24. nats128 - Aug 17, 2015 at 2:45 PM

    Winning ways!

  25. Big Red W - Aug 17, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    Dave DombrowskI interested in Nats





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 Click here for past audio clips.

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