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
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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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- On deadline day, Nationals have decisions to make
- Nationals get a big rally, then hang on for dear life
- Nats end road trip with much-needed 4-3 win over Marlins
- Bryce Harper rediscovers his hitting stroke
- Nationals need win today to avoid losing road trip
- Depleted Nationals lineup shut out by Marlins
- Nationals can't fight back against Marlins, lose 3-0
- Werth out but says ankle sprain isn't serious
- Strasburg takes mound for big start vs. Marlins
- Zimmermann returns to form in dominant start