By Sarah Mackson
It’s September 11, and the Nats are sitting pretty at 79-64, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs for the first wild card playoff spot:
Playoff chances (via 538.com): 93 percent
Playoff clinching magic number: 16
Patrick Corbin (above) is every bit the ace that Mike Rizzo envisioned when signing him last offseason. Over his last 15 starts, he has a 2.29 ERA with 116 strikeouts and 31 walks in 94 1/3 innings. He has never faced the Twins, but will take the bump on Thursday with what could be a chance to take the rubber game or complete the sweep.
Since August 10, the Twins and Nats are tied for the fourth-best record in baseball (18-9). It’s worth noting that both teams peaked early in that stat, with the Nats nursing a 5-5 record in their last 10 games (including two losing series), and the Twins are not much better at 6-4.
“We just feel a little bit down. But we still have a chance…we’ve got to keep it going.” Juan Soto summed up the team’s last week succinctly. Facing a tough stretch of teams over .500, the Nats have proven to be not quite the juggernaut that they appeared to be vs. sub.-500 teams in August.