Jul 18, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT
And so we have reached the unofficial second half of the season, which this year amounts to a 67-game sprint to the finish line for a Nationals club that cannot afford a single slip-up along the way.
The Nats have already used up all their mulligans for 2013, slogging their way into the All-Star break with a 48-47 record that falls well below Opening Day expectations but still leaves them with an opportunity to play meaningful baseball right through September and perhaps into October.
What has to happen between now and then to make that reality? And what else should we keep an eye on over the remainder of the season? Let's count down the five biggest second-half storylines for the Nationals…
5. STRASBURG'S FIRST FULL SEASON
Remember the sideshow that was the Great Stephen Strasburg Shutdown of September 2012? (How could anyone forget, even if they tried in desperation to erase those images?) Well, the goodRead more »
NL EAST STANDINGS
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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- Nationals go for series sweep in Seattle
- Strasburg pitches gem as Nats beat Mariners 3-1
- Manny Pacquiao to throw first pitch before Nats-Dodgers game
- Mets could lose Murphy for rest of season
- Nats blast King Felix, open series vs. Mariners with win
- Zimmermann, Nats get huge test with King Felix out in Seattle
- Nats extend contract with Single-A Hagerstown
- The Baseball Show: Williams for Manager of the Year?
- MLB Power Rankings: L.A. Angels flying high