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What to watch for as the Nationals’ season nears a close

Nationals season

The Washington Nationals are currently 67-67, eight game behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East and seven games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the second NL Wild Card. According to ESPN, the Nationals have a 5.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. While Washington still has a chance to make the playoffs, it is becoming very unlikely at this point. With 33 games left in the Nationals season, here is what to look forward to in the last month.

Trades

Nationals season
Image Courtesy of Washington Times

The Nationals are talking to multiple suitors about trading pitchers  Ryan Madson and Gio Gonzalez. Both are free agents after the season and neither is expected to be re-signed. Getting anything in return at this point seems like a steal for the Nationals. While both pitchers have been inconsistent all season, they are full of playoff experience and will add much-needed depth to any contender.

Madson won the World Series with the Phillies in 2008 and the Kansas City Royals in 2015. In six post-season starts, Gio is 0-0 with a 4.78 era. Gio has yet been able to dominate opposing hitters in the playoffs, but he brings knowledge and a veteran presence that would be appreciated by any contender. The Dodgers made a waiver claim for Ryan Madson and talks are sure to ensue.

Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer has found himself for the third straight season on the verge of winning the NL Cy Young. This year is his toughest challenge since coming to the NL. Scherzer is in a three-way race with aces Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets and Aaron Nola of the Phillies.

All three have impressive resumes but the Nationals’ star is leading most of the categories. He is first in wins, strikeouts, WHIP, K/9 and K/BB. Scherzer is third in ERA behind only deGrom and Nola. Unfortunately, Scherzer lost his last two starts, both were against Nola. This three-way race is reaching the home stretch and as of now, it is hard to pick a clear front-runner.

Juan Soto

Nationals season
Image Courtesy of the Nationals Twitter Page

Soto is in a two-man race with Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves for NL Rookie of the Year. Soto was the front-runner for the award all season until Acuna went on his home run binge. From August 8 to August 14, Acuna hit eight home runs, six of which were in five straight games.

Soto has 16 home runs for the season which ties Ken Griffey Jr. for 5th all time by a teenager. Soto has a slash line of .292/.409/.513 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs. Unless Soto falls into a slump and Acuna continues to crush dingers, then Soto should bring home the hardware. The last month of the season will be a very close race for NL Rookie of the Year.

Victor Robles

Victor Robles is the top prospect in the Nationals’ farm system and the number four ranked prospect in all of baseball. He was supposed to be called up earlier this year, but unfortunately for him, he hyper-extended his elbow and spent a lengthy stint on the DL. Due to being on the DL, when injuries ravaged the Nationals outfield, Juan Soto was called up instead.

Robles has since returned to Triple-A and has been on a tear. He should be called up in September when rosters are expanded. The Nationals are grooming Robles to be a replacement in case Bryce Harper departs. The 21-year-old can play center field, as he has amazing speed. This will allow for Adam Eaton to permanently play right field, his preferred position.

Feature Image from Washington Times.

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