Nationals Notebook: Over and out but looking up

The Washington Nationals were officially eliminated from the NL East race Thursday when the New York Mets posted their 80th win of the season.

One could make the case they were out of the race since the first series. Not only did they never have a winning record this year, they were never even .500 for one game in 2022. But there’s more! The Wild Card “tragic” number is eight (and it’s San Diego that currently in that spot, you might recognize two of their players) and the odds of avoiding a 100-loss season are slim (they’d need to finish 20-14). But at least we’re seeing the next generation of Nats players at the big league level. Cade Cavalli was a first round pick in 2020 and made his MLB debut Friday against Cincinnati. It wasn’t ideal (seven runs over 4.1 innings) but when the rotation hasn’t posted a victory since July 6, you may as well get the prime prospect’s feet wet. The future might not be “wow,” but it’s definitely on display.

Digesting the Division – the New York Mets (82-47) likely won’t match their 108 wins of 1986, but a 100-victory season is well within reach. The question is can they catch the Los Angeles Dodgers (87-38) for the best record in the NL? Atlanta (79-50) trails the Mets by three games but owns a decent cushion in the race for the best Wild Card record. Philadelphia (72-56) has caught fire with six wins in seven games and has Bryce Harper back in the lineup. Miami (55-72) needs to get serious if they want to avoid a 12th losing season in 13 years (and the aberration was a 31-29 mark in the COVID year). And then there are the Nationals (43-85) who should get to fifty wins but will make us sweat until they do.

Break up the Birds! – the O’s (67-60) weren’t able to complete the sweep of AL West leading Houston but remain just one and a half games out of the third Wild Card spot in the American League. They now go from one division leader to another with a series against Cleveland coming up. Seven of their next 10 games are against clubs with winning records. I’m going to believe, though…

Last Week’s Heroes – Patrick Corbin tossed five strikeouts while allowing one earned run over six innings Sunday to give the rotation their first victory since June 6 (an MLB-record 43 games for those keeping track). He wasn’t the only starter to post a decent outing, as Anibal Sanchez (4.1 scoreless innings) and Erick Fedde (two runs allowed over 5.1 frames) pitched well but not well enough to record victories. Ildemaro Vargas batted .313 with a pair of home runs while Joey Meneses hit .389 while scoring a team-high five runs.

Last Week’s Humbled – Victor Robles hit .071 while C.J. Abrams batted .111, and though each carries value in the field, designated hitter Nelson Cruz (.167) does not. Relievers Jake McGee (10.80 ERA) and Steve Cishek (18.00) had less than ideal outings and while Cade Cavalli will have plenty of chances to prove himself his debut (seven runs over 4.1 innings) was not awesome.

Game to Watch – Saturday the Nationals visit the New York and Max Scherzer is slated to pitch for Mets. Over a year later it’s still awesome to watch Max take the mound-even if it’s for the other team. I enjoyed covering his starts immensely while he was in D.C. and although this is a tough pill to swallow, at least I can imagine him wearing the Curly W.

Game to Miss – Tuesday the Nats begin a series with Oakland. Get used to these games because beginning next year, MLB has every team playing each other for the first time in the history of the game. So instead of nine or ten home games against the Mets and Phillies next year, we’ll get the A’s in August (I looked it up).

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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