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VIDEO: Possible playoff run, Harper in Derby

Jul 19, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT

On last night's episode of "The Baseball Show" on CSN, Jim Duquette, Rob Carlin and I both looked back at the All-Star Game and surrounding festivities and looked ahead to the second half of the season.

In the above clip, we look at what it would take for the Nationals to make a playoff run over the season's final 2 1/2 months. We also look at a bunch of clubs over the last few years who have come out of the All-Star break right around the .500 mark and still reached the playoffs (or even, in a couple of cases, the World Series). So, yes, the Nats do still have a shot.

Below the jump, you'll find our discussion of the Home Run Derby, what it meant for Bryce and Ron Harper to share the moment together and what might have happened had somebody else pitched to the Nationals young slugger.

And in the final segment below, we look ahead to the July 31 trade deadline and wonder what, if anything, Mike Rizzo might have up his sleeve. Enjoy…Read more ยป

  1. James Joyce - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    The Nats have a good shot, of course. But,the NL Central is looking to claim 1 if not both WC spots (the Reds/Bucs/Cards are all very good, each will make additions — the Bucs will likely go big with the others adding complimentary stuff). The Braves are 21-19 since June 1 but the Nats have not made up any ground (20-19). Good news is that the Braves are not settig the world on fire, bad news they've kept a 6 game lead without doing so. I expect that they will play better. The Nats need to up their game in a big way if they are going to be playing playoff baseball and I think that most of us would agree that this season is a bust if they do not make the playoffs after having been WS favorites.

  2. baseballswami - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Looking forward to good baseball being played on a daily basis. I find that I cannot enjoy it with one eye on the postseason and the other on Atlanta. I wish Bob Caroenter would quit updating us on every Atlanta game constantly during games. And anyway- our battle is really with Philly right now. Just good, hard nosed, competitive baseball, please.

  3. 3on2out - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Don't know how many of you read Sports Illustrated…the publication that put Strasburg on the cover of its April 1st (Oh wait! I get it!!) Baseball Edition and predicted "The Nationals Will Break Through and Win the World Series." This week it issued its midterm adjustment: Nats and Pirates are the NL Wild Cards. Nats beat the Pirates in the one game play in. Nats lose to Cards in NLDS. Haven't we already seen that movie?

  4. hiramhover - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    If the Nats are going to make a serious run, they're going to have to play well against contending teams. They've got two such series coming up–the resurgent Dodgers and the "maybe we actually won't collapse this year" Pirates.Show us what you got, boys!

  5. JD - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    HH, I agree with you. It would be good to start by taking 2 out 3 from the Dodgers and 3 of 4 from the Pirates. The Reds are starting at home against Pittsburgh and I look for Cinci to make a run at the Pirates and eventually over take them. If Pittsburgh manages to hold off the Reds this may be our best chance to get into the playoffs (pass Cincinati).

  6. Don - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    The Nats need to play well against everybody. MLB this year has good parity, there are few cupcakes (the Fish have a better record since June 1 than the Nats, Mets have played .500 since then). They need to string together series wins. Given the back end of the rotation being iffy right now and the hitting still being dormant, they have to play good D and stop making base running mistakes. One of the differences between a winner and these .500 clubs is not giving away outs. The Nats should be able to at least limit the mistakes.

  7. JD - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Olney reports that Garza will be traded before he makes his next start and likely to Texas with a solid A+ pitcher going to the Cubs. The next couple of pitchers to go will likely be Peavy and Gallardo and with Arizona, Boston and others in desperate need of starting pitching they won't come cheap.

  8. SCNatsFan - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    HH, I agree. The time for excuses and 'good' losses has come to an end. If this team is going to make some noise then it has to start now. Series splits aren't going to cut it when trying to make up ground.

  9. Joe Seamhead - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Tonight's game is huge, as Strasburg looked awful last time out, after hitting 3 guys the game before that. Did he just have a couple of bad games, or has something gone wrong> Tonight is going to be brutally, and oppressively, hot. As to going to games when it's this hot, we take a small soft cooler with a gallon bag of ice cubes, a couple of bottles of water each, and a small, clean towel. Pour water in the bag of ice, soak towel, cool face, neck, and arms. "Soothing" is an understatement.

  10. Nats 128 - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    You need 4 starters for the post-season and you need 5 for the regular season.We still havent seen Ross Olendorf much and he looks like a pitcher who could give the Nats some good starts. Rizzo probably doesnt like him since he doesnt throw 95 and interestingly enought neither does Haren.

  11. Tcostant - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    If the Nats play better they have a shot, if they play the same they will be out of the race by mid-September. I'm hoping for the former.

  12. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    The Braves starters haven't looked good. Have you seen Hudson, Maholm, Medlen and Teheran lately. Only Mike Minor has been getting it done consistently for them lately. The Nats have Taylor Jordan who can give Ross Detwiler the time he needs to get back to 100%. Rizzo can figure out the #5 between Haren and Ohlendorf.That gives the Nats: Stras, Gio, JZim, TJord and Haren until Detwiler is ready.

  13. alexva - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    I would be hesitant to make a trade when there have been so many issues this season. trading prospects for a pitcher when they're not scoring and fielding well seems pointless. if they improve in those areas the current pitchers will be fineGYFNG

  14. baseballswami - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    I think if Det or Haren can't pull it together, use Taylor Jordan until his innings are up, then Ohlendorf. By then it will be close enough to time for extra call ups. Rather use the O man as a starter and worry about filling the long man spot- maybe Det and O switch roles??

  15. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    baseballswami said… I think if Det or Haren can't pull it together, use Taylor Jordan until his innings are up, then Ohlendorf. By then it will be close enough to time for extra call ups. Rather use the O man as a starter and worry about filling the long man spot- maybe Det and O switch roles?? Swami, I think you go with TJord and get Det 100%. He clearly was brought back too quickly. Again, I just hope it isn't his hip.The Nats should not jump in July at trades unless there is a no brainer salary dump player they can pick up. I wouldn't give up more than Cutter Dykstra until it's determined that the Nats are really in it. Can't sell off the future on short-termers and the way I see it, the Nats rotation is set for 2014 (Stras, Gio, JZim, Det, TJord).In August there will be waiver wire trade opportunities which is how they got Kurt Suzuki last year.I think patience and prudence will pay off in the short-term and long-term.

  16. baseballswami - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Agreed on being patient. I also don't want to see any short term fix that jeopardizes future years. I don't want just one year.

  17. NatsLady - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    The Pirates are 56-37. It really does feel like the Nats could be 56-40 (8 more wins, 8 fewer losses among the 95), if not for certain games. It just feels like the team wasn't "sharp" and "urgent" about (almost) every game. I don't mean the 15-0 blowouts, those happen. But games slipped away, with errors, with Davey not putting in Rendon (twice), with relievers giving up too many runs, with Haren and Detwiler not healthy/effective. Well, it's time to start winning those games. I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again. Last year I was in conversation with an Astros fan, and I complimented him on how tight the games were, and the Astros were "in" the games. He said, yes, but GOOD teams find a way to win those type games. Nats have to start overcoming the problems, not giving in to them–not waiting for the next game. And that comes from the top, from Davey I hope, and from the vets like Werth and LaRoche who have been through it. The Phillies were 5 games back on September 3, 2007 and the won it. No need to panic, just play better.

  18. JD - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    NL, The Philly example in 2007 should be taken with a grain of salt because it was accomplished with a total and complete Mets collapse. It could happen but I wouldn't bank on it. I agree that the Reds and Braves aren't great teams but they aren't bad teams either. What IMO can't happen is the Nats falling further behind and this is why I consider the next 7 days close to make it or break it time. I don't think we can come out of the next 2 series 8 or 9 games behind with 60 to play and reasonably expect to make it up. At the very least we must hold serve.

  19. JD - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    and we can't be losing 2 of 3 to Miami and 3 of 4 to Phily and 2 of 4 to Milwaukee any more. We have to take care of business and put away the weak sisters.

  20. Alphabet Soup Erik - Jul 19, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    The Braves aren't going to be caught. They only play 19 games against teams over .500, and 9 are against the 1 game over .500 Nationals. The only hope the Nats have is to overtake the Reds or Pirates. The problem is that the Pirates are like 10 games ahead, and the Reds are not likely to collapse because they are just too good. You also have the teams out west like the Dodgers or Diamondbacks. If I am Rizzo, I am selling at the deadline.

  21. alexva - Jul 19, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    who would you sell?

  22. baseballswami - Jul 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Anyone can collapse. Many teams are just one key injury away from disaster. We keep trying to predict what will happen- but you can't.

  23. 3on2out - Jul 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Alphabet Soup:Really? Selling? Who are you dumping for prospects? Who do you imagine is in demand?

  24. hiramhover - Jul 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    ErikIt's definitely tough but hardly impossible. If the Nats go 6-3 against the Braves, that leaves them 3 games to make up over the other 58. (We can worry about tied records and head to head schedules later).

  25. NatsLady - Jul 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    JD–agreed. That was a soft part of our schedule and we should have won all three series.

  26. James Joyce - Jul 19, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Selling?? Wow, I am complaining that the club is not aggressive enough to add players, posters are out there who think the club should dump guys at this point? Anyway, shoulda, woulda, coulda, those last 3 series are the past. Nats got some rest, a chance to reevaluate, make adjustments. Let's see how well they jump out of the gate for these last 67. Go Nats!!

  27. mick - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    I could see Nats and pirates as WC…but Nats MUST have a winning home stand, no 2 ways about it..Joe seam is spot on about stras…his performance tonight will tell us if his last game was just a glitch or an unfortunate trend

  28. JD - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    mick, I have faith in Stras. Somehow when he's bad he's all the way bad and he's had a tendency to do that every once in a while but generally when he's good he is close to dominant for about a month before the next stinker.

  29. nats guy - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Nats need to learn to stop being nice guys and step on some necks when the other guys are down.They have let so many teams back up when they were ahead early. Mostly they have won but have expended a lot of resources on games that should have been laughers. Jordan has a limited time left before he expends his innings limit. Detwiler needs to find a breaking pitch. Teams have been timing him and are killing him on the second time through because he has fallen in love with his fastball.This is a very important game for Strasburg. Last game was pretty brutal. Was that just a bad game, which everybody has eventually. or is something wrong.Nats need to win or sweep series for the rest of season to have even a miniscule hope of a prayer.

  30. JD - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Erik, The Braves can be caught. Like the Nats they have played .500 since their hot start and they lost series to Milwaukee the Mets and KC. They are not some kind of invincible super team. Cinci is a good team but their starters have been shaky and Cueto is on the shelf. Pitsburgh is way ahead but until they prove that they can sustain this for a whole year they remain a question mark. The bottom line is this. If the Nats can play .600 or better they have a chance, if they can't they don't. Simple as that.

  31. JD - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Nats Guy, Jordan is at 112 innings. Even if he is only allowed to get to 140 innings that's sill 4 – 5 games and if he's allowed to go to 160 then it's still 8 more games. The hope is that Det and Haren can take the ball for most of their remaining starts so I don't really see this as a huge problem. No, the Nats don't have to win or sweep every series to get to the playoffs, they just need to play a little over .600 and win the head to head series against the Braves. Another thing to consider, if the Pirates take in on the chin from the Reds this weekend then the Nats have a really good opportunity to bring them back into the pack. Just something to consider.

  32. mick - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    JDI think you are probably correct and I agree with you on Stras

  33. Jim - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Yasiel Puig batting against Stephen Strasburg … tonight, right here on Half Street. Put aside all the speculation, stats and what-ifs about the Nats and enjoy the matchup everyone will be talking about.

  34. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    I agree with several posters here, that if the Nats don't score more runs than the other team, they won't win the game, and furthermore, if they don't win games, they won't make the playoffs. And tomorrow's powerball numbers are going to be2 15 21 44 48 and PB 19.

  35. natsfan1a - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    I just want the dang games to start again. I heard that there's a reason why they play them. Can't quite recall what that is, though…

  36. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    1a, I understand they play the games to generate the raw data on players.

  37. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Sorta like how restaurants cook food so they'll have something to put on the menu and review on Yelp, which is the point, after all.

  38. hiramhover - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    SofaMore specifically, to prove that the actual results were within the 95% confidence level of the projections.

  39. Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    I sit corrected. Thank you HH.

  40. natsfan1a - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Thanks, sofa and HH. That clears it up.

  41. Unknown - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    To win the home run derby, the hitter needs to stay in the groove and that's not possible if he swings at one out of every six pitches. Harper's father threw curve balls and wild pitches. He should have been sitting in the stands.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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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