Race for a Red October: Nats seek revenge vs. Mets

Brian Tinsman
September 02, 2019 - 12:22 pm

** This installment of Race For A Red October is presented by PVI Office Furniture

The Washington Nationals took care of business over the holiday weekend, sweeping the lowly Miami Marlins and running the winning streak to four.

If the good times are to continue, they’ll need to roll uphill.

Monday’s game vs. the New York Mets kicks off a stretch of 16 games in 17 days (10 against NL East rivals), all against teams over .500. 

A 19-7 August put the Nationals back in the playoff picture and in control of their postseason destiny, but this 2.5-week stretch in September will define their season.

The Mets may be in fourth place in the division, but they are still very much in Wild Card contention, just four games back of the second spot. More importantly, they have already beaten the Nats 10 times this season, securing the season series win. This is a revenge opportunity for the Nationals, who can torpedo the Mets' playoff chances.

Go for another series sweep, and the Nats can build on a 4.5-game lead for the first Wild Card spot and keep pace with the division-leading Atlanta Braves before a series showdown later this week. Get swept by the Mets, and Washington will severely hurt its chances of winning the division.

Here’s how the Nationals can help their Race for a Red October against the Mets:

Playoff chances (via fivethirtyeight.com): 98 percent

Playoff clinching magic number: 25

National to watch: Anthony Rendon is a cape short of superhero status, batting .449/.506/.808 with seven home runs and a team-leading 1.9 fWAR over the last three weeks. His .337 season batting average leads all of baseball, and his 111 RBI rank second only to Freddie Freeman’s 114. The Nats’ best hitters have all gotten hot in the last three weeks, but Rendon is having a world-class contract season.

Met worth mentioning: Old friend Wilson Ramos comes back to D.C. riding a 25-game hit streak, which is five games short of a Mets franchise record. During that stretch, which started Aug. 3, he has batted a dominant .438/.460/.594 across 96 at-bats. The prevailing wisdom is that he will rest on Monday, but look for him to make an impact on Tuesday and Wednesday.

By the numbers: Washington has won 16 of the last 19 games by leading baseball with 152 runs scored in that stretch, 14 more than any other team. The Nats’ best starting pitchers won’t align with this series, so the pressure could be on the offense to continue carrying the team.

Notable quote: “When we started enjoying the game and started joking in here, it’s like everything changed. The game. Dancing with the homers. Dancing after the games. It’s amazing.” Juan Soto believes an attitude adjustment earlier this season helped change the team’s fortunes, putting them in the driver’s seat for the playoffs.

Series prediction: The Nationals (9-1) are the best team in baseball over the last 10 games. The Mets (3-7) swooned in August and would fall below .500 if they were swept to start September. On paper, Washington should dominate this series. Psychologically, the Nats need to vanquish a team that has bested them this season and stay hot heading into a showdown with the Braves. Look for the Nationals to win at least two vs. the Mets.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.

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