Today, the Washington Nationals will enter the stretch run in their push to return to the 2013 MLB post season. The Nationals will continue to rely on their steady pitching rotation and veteran bats to grind their way into the playoffs. For how poorly the Nats have played through 91 games, it’s amazing that they are even in contention. The Atlanta Braves are a very strong squad yet remain only 5 games in front. If there is one thing Washington does have going for them, it is their health. Unlike the Braves, the Nationals have avoided major injuries and should look fresh as they enter the hunt for October. Still, however, there are a few things that must happen in order for the Nationals to catch the Braves.
First and very simply put, they have to score runs. The Nat’s bats are ranked in the bottom half of most statistical categories and must have better offensive production in order to win games. Anthony Rendon has proved to be a spark in Bryce Harper’s absence and should be a key contributor. To aid the offense, the front office should look to add another veteran bat as the trade deadline approaches. They will look for someone that can tie together a line up that has struggled stringing together hits. Next, the back end of the rotation has to be more stable. Dan Haren and Taylor Jordan have been much improved in their recent starts and must continue to keep the Nationals hitters in the game as the pressure mounts. Finally, Nationals manager Davey Johnson has to find his rhythm on the bench. Johnson continues to mix up the lineup and rotation and must find consistency. This consistency will allow hitters and pitchers alike to get in a routine as they attempt to reach the playoffs. All has to come together in order for the Nationals to make a return to the post season but the outlook may be brighter than previously seen. The stretch run begins tonight at 7:05 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.