The final day of August finds the Nationals stand five and a half games behind the New York Mets in the NL East race.  Now the opponent isn’t just whomever manager Matt Williams team is facing, but the calendar.  Thirty-three games remain in the schedule…and while they have a favorable finish (18 are at home and 24 are against teams with losing records) so do the Mets (18 and 23).  MASN’s broadcast crew reminded viewers a week ago that having 6 games in hand with a 5.5 game deficit means the “Nats control their own destiny”…but the fact that they’re not sweeping series against bottom-feeders while the Mets are blazing trails though their slate of also-rans has to be discouraging.  The slow drain that is the end of the 2015 season is beginning…

Counting Cards– the Nationals visit St. Louis to face the team with the best record in the big leagues.  They were swept at Busch Stadium each of the last two years.  This does not look ideal as the Mets plow through a series with Philadelphia.  Does it not seem that the Mets will face the Phillies 30 times in August and September?

Last Week’s Heroes– Ryan Zimmerman tallied 3 homers and 10 RBI as the lineup changed around him on a daily basis.  Last Saturday the team gave away Rubik’s Cubes on “80’s Night”– while the team used a cube to shift around multiple players into different positions.  His presence is necessary if this team is to have a September surge.  Jayson Werth produced runs from atop the lineup…which is key because the club is now without their sparkplug for the season.

Last Week’s Humbled– I’m calling out the team’s medical staff for one rough year where nothing went as planned.  Denard Span is now done for the year with pending hip surgery–he’ll miss over 100 games this year.  Anthony Rendon’s followup to last year’s breakthrough campaign is an afterthought (80 games missed) while Ryan Zimmerman (41 games sidelined) and Jayson Werth (71 games out) have been hobbled as well.  They need to sacrifice chickens or something moving forward…

Game to Watch– Wednesday September 2nd Max Scherzer pitches against Michael Wacha (15-4, 2.69 ERA).  This might be a game where the Nats need to win to avoid getting swept.  Can Scherzer bounce back from what’s been one awful August (0-3, 6.42 ERA)?  The kid who almost no-hit the Nats two years ago is not the ideal guy to go up against.

Game to Miss– Saturday September 5th Gio Gonzalez (9-7, 4.11 ERA but 0-3 with a 10.22 ERA in his last three starts) pitches against Mike Foltynewicz (4-6, 5.71 with an odd array of consonants).  For those who love college football, you’re getting back into the season.  For those who enjoy the summer, you have one last weekend to swim.  For those who have put off reading Marion Meade’s biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, your summer reading time is running out.