A look at what lies ahead

We've taken a peek back at the Nationals' first 95 games.

It might not have been a pleasant experience for you, but we did it.

Now, let's look ahead. The Nats have 67 games remaining, 67 chances to chip away at the Braves' six-game lead in the National League East and the five-game deficit for the final Wild Card spot.

How tough a road do the Nats have ahead of them? Well, it's not easy, but there are some chances here to get things going in a positive direction.

Of the Nats' 67 remaining contests, only 24 (36 percent) are against teams that currently have records over .500. Compare that with the schedule the Giants (40 games against above-.500 teams) or the Cardinals (38 such games), and you can see the Nats actually have a pretty favorable second-half schedule.

Thirty-six of the 67 Nats games remaining (54 percent) are at home, where the Nats have a .600 winning percentage. Away from the nation's capital, the Nats are playing just .420 ball.

If the Nats are going to make some noise in the second half, they probably need to take advantage of these next 10 days, in which they'll play 11 home games. Four of those 11 come against a red-hot Pirates team that's currently 19 games above .500, but the Nats also get three games against the .500 Dodgers and four against the Mets.

You want to show general manager Mike Rizzo that it's worth being a buyer at the trade deadline and adding another bench bat or possibly a starting pitcher, fellas? Come out of the second-half gates hot, put together a strong homestand and get that record a handful of games above .500.

Unfortunately for the Nats, they've still got 10 games against the Marlins, who have been playing much better of late, bouncing back from a 13-41 start to go 22-17 over the last six-plus weeks. In retrospect, having the bulk of the Nats' games against Miami come during the first two months of the season would have been preferred.

The Nats' final stretch will be tough - 16 of their final 27 games are on the road, including a tough finish with three at St. Louis and three at Arizona, both of which are looking like playoff teams.

In order to get to the postseason, the Nats will probably have to get to 90 wins. That's usually a safe estimate for playoff teams - especially with two Wild Cards now in each league.

In order to get to 90 wins, the Nats will have to win 63 percent of their remaining games, a 102-win pace.

In order to get to 95 wins, just for the sake of discussion, the Nats will need to win 70 percent of their games, a 114-win pace.

Ninety wins is certainly within reach at this point, but it will take a much, much higher level of baseball over the final 10 weeks of the season. The Nats, as we've discussed plenty of times, have dug themselves quite a hole here, but it's not impossible to turn things around.

The schedule lying ahead isn't super tough (ESPN's Buster Olney ranks the Nats' remaining schedule fourth-easiest among playoff-contending teams). But in reality, the opponents don't mean nearly as much as the level of play which the Nats are delivering. As Davey Johnson loves to say, if the Nats can just play to their potential, they can do some special things.

We'll see whether that's something they can do over these next 67 games.

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