Ohlendorf continues to prove his value to Nats

The Nationals' postseason odds more than doubled with yesterday's results, jumping from 2.7 percent to 5.5 percent, according to both BaseballProspectus.com and CoolStandings.com.

By no means is overcoming a 4 1/2-game deficit with 15 games remaining going to be easy. The Nats need to stay insanely hot and hope the Reds continue to flounder over the next two weeks.

But 4 1/2 with 15 to go actually sounds somewhat attainable, or at least a heck of a lot more attainable than eight back with 20 to go. The Nationals have done nice work over the last five days to cut the wild card deficit nearly in half, and now they need to keep on rolling.

I've written a bunch about Ryan Zimmerman's ridiculous power surge lately, but it deserves mentioning again, if only to share Zimmerman's teammates' thoughts on what's gone on with the third baseman over the last couple weeks.

Zimmerman's solo homer in the third inning last night gave him nine homers in his last 11 games. It also means that nine of Zimmerman's last 14 hits have left the ballpark.

"It's incredible," Bryce Harper said last night. "That's something that's very special. I just started laughing once he hit that one (Friday night). I just started laughing, I thought it was awesome. He's locked in right now and it's exciting to watch. Hopefully, he can keep it going through September."

"I mean, this is the crazy thing about baseball," Ian Desmond said. "He's been hitting low line drives that have been hard ground balls, low hard ground balls that if you're one grain up turn into home runs. And now it's happening. This game, you are what you are, and by the end of the day, we might look up and Zim might have 30 and 100. That is who he is."

Zimmerman, for what it's worth, says he doesn't feel especially hot at the plate, and doesn't feel like he's seeing the ball any bigger than he normally does.

"Just going with it," he said simply.

Zimmerman's homer last night helped make a winner of Ross Ohlendorf for the fourth time this season. Ohlendorf has now made 15 appearances with the Nats, nine in relief and six as a starter. He's handled whatever role has been thrown at him, and yesterday got the victory in a big spot start, boosting the Nats' record to 6-0 when he starts a game.

"When you're winning games in a row, the whole team is doing things that are helping you win. It's kinda contagious and kinda rubs off on whoever is out there," Zimmerman said. "Ross has been great for us all year. From the time he came up as just kind of a long guy and started a few times, he's done everything we asked of him and more."

"He was very clutch and showed a lot of, I want to say another word, but he showed a lot of guts out there for us," Harper said.

Ohlendorf found out before Thursday night's game in New York that with Stephen Strasburg feeling some forearm tightness during a throwing session, the Nats might need a spot starter for Friday. After Thursday's game, Ohlendorf was told he was almost certainly going to get the ball Friday night.

With less than 24 hours' notice, Ohlendorf took to the mound in a playoff race, allowed just one run over five solid innings, and led the Nats to a big victory. Just another big-time performance from a veteran hurler who signed with the Nats as a minor league free agent this offseason and came to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

"I feel really good about the job I've done to help us have the season that we're putting together right now," Ohlendorf said. "Obviously, we still have a good chance to make the playoffs the way we're playing. Wins are all important."

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