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Why? Well, for one thing, there are only 67 games remaining on the schedule. As detailed yesterday, in order to get to 90 wins, the Nationals need to go 42-25 the rest of the way. That's a .627 winning percentage, the equivalent of a 101-win pace.
If they only go, say, 5-6 during their upcoming homestand, they'll leave themselves in a position where they have to go 37-19 to get to 90 wins. That's a .661 winning percentage, the equivalent of a 107-win pace.
Point is, each week that passes without the Nationals making up some ground is a week lost at this stage of the process. Yes, there's still time for them to get back in this thing, but there's no more time to merely tread water. They have to begin an uphill climb and sustain it.
Which brings us back to the next 10 days, during which the Nats will host 11 games on South Capitol Street: three against the Dodgers, four against the Pirates, four against the Mets (including a doubleheader one week from today).
Those first two opponents are no piece of cake. The Dodgers, for all their early season struggles, have the majors' best record since June 22 (17-5) and have won nine of their last 11 road games. The Pirates, meanwhile, come out of the All-Star break with the second-best record in baseball and the best pitching staff in the sport.
The good news: The Nationals have been a far better team at home this season than they've been on the road. They're 27-18 at Nationals Park this year, a .600 winning percentage that is only slightly off their .618 pace from last season.
Davey Johnson has a full and healthy lineup at his disposal. His top three starters (Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann) are lined up to pitch this weekend (though the Dodgers will send their own impressive trio to the mound in Ricky Nolasco, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw). And his team gets to open the second half of the season with 11 straight home games.
The time has come to make a move. Now we find out if the Nationals can actually do it.