Jul 18, 2013, 10:00 AM EST
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 »
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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- Nationals 2014 minor league spotlight: Wilmer Difo
- Nationals 2014 minor league spotlight: A.J. Cole
- Report: LaRoche signs 2-year deal with White Sox
- Souza explains gift from Zimmermann: 'It was his moment'
- Nats sign RHP Billings for minor league depth
- Braves seen as 'dark horse' for next Cuban star Tomas
- When should Nats' wave of prospects arrive?
- Nationals linked to top free agent Max Scherzer
- Nats add 4 players to 40-man roster, drop pair
- Report: Nationals consider Zimmermann & Fister 'available'