On pace for 108 losses, Nationals clinch third straight losing season

On pace for 108 losses, Nats clinch 3rd straight losing season originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Nationals’ 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday marked their 82nd defeat of the year, mathematically eliminating any chance of them making a miraculous turnaround and finishing with a record over .500. They became this season’s first team to clinch a losing campaign, their third straight since winning the World Series in 2019.

Washington entered play Monday with an MLB-low .333 winning percentage, putting it on pace to finish 54-108. That would stand as its worst record in the 18 years since the team moved to D.C. and second-worst in franchise history behind only the Expos’ inaugural 1969 season.

The last time a D.C.-based MLB team finished with that low a winning percentage was when the Senators went 50-104 in 1949. With a -209 run differential that also stands as MLB’s worst in 2022, the Nationals will have to improve their play over their final 39 games to avoid pushing their loss total up near the 110 range.

According to Tankathon, the Nationals own the sixth-toughest remaining schedule as their final opponents own a combined .530 winning percentage. They do have a favorable homestand coming up with three games against the Cincinnati Reds (48-71) and three against the Oakland A’s (45-77). But 26 of those 39 games will pit them up against divisional opponents.

Washington is just 9-42 against NL East teams this season, the worst record for any club against its own division. After years of the Nationals beating up on the rest of the NL East, the division has become one of the league’s best with three teams in line to make the playoffs.

Even though they’re on pace to finish with the fewest wins in the majors, the Nationals aren’t guaranteed the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. MLB and the players union installed new anti-tanking measures in their Collective Bargaining Agreement last offseason that include a lottery for the top six picks.

The bottom three teams in the league standings will each have a 16.5% chance for the top selection, followed by fourth (13.25%), fifth (10%), sixth (7.5%), etc. All 18 teams that fall short of making the playoffs will be eligible for the lottery.

RELATED: What Nats can learn from hiccups in Rangers, Tigers rebuilds

Regardless of where the Nationals pick in the draft, this season will go down as one of the toughest D.C. baseball fans have ever had to endure. In addition to losing as much as they have, the Nationals also traded superstar outfielder Juan Soto and former All-Star Josh Bell, just a year after World Series staples Max Scherzer and Trea Turner faced similar exits.

While the historic haul of prospects they received in those trades was an immediate injection of elite talent for their farm system, it will be years before the ballclub sees whether those young players can emerge as potential franchise cornerstones and returns to contention.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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