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August 29, 2015 / Nat Anacostia

Update – How many games do the Nats need to win?

Last week I provided some calculations on how many games the Nats need to win to beat the Mets. Since that post went up, the Nats have done pretty well, winning the last 2 games against the Diamondbacks and taking 2 of 3 against the Padres, before falling to the Marlins last night. Going 4–2 is close to the 29–12 pace that I suggested that they would need.

The problem is that the Mets did even better, going 6–1, so the Nats fell 1.5 games further behind, making it even harder for them to catch up. As I said, my calculations were based on the Mets doing as expected, and if they stay super-hot it will basically be impossible for the Nats to catch up.

So let’s suppose the Mets revert to “expected” performance. Both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus now expect the Mets to end the season with 90 wins. For the Nats to win 91, they would now need to go 27–8 the rest of the way. While not impossible, it’s clearly improbable. What that means is that in addition to needing to play exceptionally well, the Nats now need to count on a Mets collapse.

The Nats could help the Mets collapse, of course, if can sweep the 6 remaining head-to-head games (or at least take 5 of them). Collapses are actually not that uncommon – at least 28 teams have failed to make the playoffs after having odds of 90% or better.  (That list includes both the 2007 and 2008 Mets!)

So the Nats shouldn’t be written off yet, but to come back they really need to continue to step up their performance (especially the starting pitching) and they need to start getting luckier in their timing and in close games. (Since the most recent Mets series began on July 31, the Nats have gone 1–5 in one run games.)

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