Nationals Notebook: Who shined? Who struggled? And how bad are things in Baltimore?

The Washington Nationals may be 59-84, and in last place of the National League East, but for the final few weeks of the 2021 regular season, they will enjoy the cover of being a baseball team in a football town.

Because no matter their problems over the last final few weeks of the season, they’ll happen under the cover of whatever happens to the Burgundy & Gold. The Capitals and Wizards/Bullets long had the luxury of starting slow because for a while nobody paid close attention until January … and the Nats have that semi-anonymity at their disposal in 2021. Unless they somehow find a way to lose 100 games.

Digesting the Division: Atlanta (76-66) owns a four and a half-game lead over Philadelphia (72-71) and has a magic number of 16 with 20 to play. The New York Mets (72-72) find themselves at .500 again while Miami (60-83) has clinched a losing record for the 11th time in 12 years (and do we really count their 31-29 finish last year?). The Nationals (59-84) now have a tragic (elimination) number of three.

O’s Woes: Meanwhile the team in Baltimore (46-97) serves as a regular reminder as to how bad things can actually be. The Birds have already wrapped up last place in the AL East for the fourth time in five years and this past weekend allowed 44 runs in three losses to Toronto. They should be able to avoid a franchise-record 116 losses by winning at least one more game this year. I think.

Say Isn’t That? Cover your eyes for a moment because Max Scherzer notched his 3,000th career strikeout while flirting with a perfect game Sunday. The former Nats pitcher is now 6-0 with a 0.88 ERA in eight starts with the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Trea Turner has a chance to reach 100 runs for the second time in his career. Kyle Schwarber won’t reach the century mark but does have 21 runs in 26 games with Boston. Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes are both contributing to Oakland’s playoff chase (A’s are two games back in the Wild Card).

Last Week’s Heroes: Juan Soto hit .480 with 8 walks and 7 runs scored. Josh Bell scored 4 runs while homering twice with 5 RBI. Kyle Finnegan tossed 4.2 scoreless innings of relief over three appearances and Patrick Corbin tossed seven strong innings Sunday to notch his second victory since the All Star break.

Last Week’s Humbled: Josiah Gray allowed 5 runs in 5 innings while relievers Alberto Baldonado and Ryne Harper posted double-digit ERA’s. Carter Kieboom hit .200 while Keibert Ruiz batted 1-10.

Game to Watch: Saturday the Nats play in Colorado with Patrick Corbin trying to win consecutive starts for the first time since June 20. He’s slated to face rookie Ryan Feltner who owns a career ERA of 11.37. Even with the DC air as opposed to Coors Field, I’m feeling the bats have a chance to heat up with a 4:05 p.m. start.

Game to Miss: The Nationals face the bottom-feeding Marlins six times over the final 19 games this year, with last place potentially being determined in their matchups. Wednesday they play a matinee. I will be doing laundry.

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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