Originally posted on The Nats Blog old  |  Last updated 5/25/12

I have a hard time calling a series in late-May important. The MLB season just passed the quarter mark, and there are still well over a hundred games to play, which means that every last place team in baseball has a chance to rebound, and every first place team in baseball has a chance to falter. But this weekend’s series against the Atlanta Braves, who the Washington Nationals have been competing against for first place all season, feels different.

A baseball season is about momentum and be able to stop losing streaks. The Nationals certainly have the pitching to do that. Their starting rotation gives up by far a league-low 3.27 runs per game, while the entire pitching staff has a 2.92 ERA. Both of those numbers are insanely low. They’re about to be challenged this weekend, though.

Atlanta’s offense is one of the most prolific in the National League. They average 4.87 runs per game, which is good for second-best in the NL. Meanwhile, the Nationals 3.70 runs scored per game puts them fourth from the bottom in the NL. That number could tick up a bit this weekend if they can get to a team with average pitching numbers.

If the Nats really want to make a statement on this division, it starts with this series. It’s the second of five straight series against NL East rivals, and the Nats get the Braves twice in those five series. If the Nats can win both series, they can start to expand their lead on the NL East.

A couple-game lead going into June can disappear in an instant, but the longer the Nats are in first place, the more believable it will be that they are a first place team, both inside and outside the clubhouse. The Braves and Nats are two different teams in their styles and what makes them successful; the Braves rely on bats while the Nats rely on arms. History has shown that pitching wins games, especially in the playoffs, and the Nats can start to show why they’re the premiere team in the division if they go above .500 in this five-series run.

Injuries continue to plague the Nats more than most other teams in baseball, and if they can continue winning in what might be the hardest stretch in their schedule this season, it will bode well for the rest of the season. Remember, the Nats will get back Michael Morse, Brad Lidge, and Drew Storen in the next couple of months, while Jayson Werth may be back for a crucial September playoff push. If the team can win now without these guys, there’s no telling how good it could get.

For now, let’s put this game as moderately important on the scale of irrelevant to World Series Game 7. It’s probably the most important series so far this season for the Nats, but there are still more than four full months of baseball to be played. 

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Female Terps fan smashes beer on forehead and chugs it, channeling Steve Austin

Rutgers TE uses rear end to make great catch

Report: Lions sign Jim Caldwell to multi-year extension

Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union throw up the ‘X’ at Nebraska game

Wilton Speight leaves game with possible back injury

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Six teams on upset alert in NFL Week 3

Three reasons why the Cleveland Indians can win the World Series

Warriors say they will visit Washington, focus on diversity

Report: Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder

Rob Manfred says Portland could get MLB expansion team

Colin Kaepernick’s mom has priceless response to Trump

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker