David Huzzard: Nats almost assured of NL East crown, but need postseason success

When the Nats are good, they are good in the same way. And as September begins, the Nats all but have the National League East locked up, just like they did in 2014. And while 2012 was much closer, the Nats had the division lead for more than half the season. It has been since May that the Nationals haven't had sole possession of first place. They can't be called wire-to-wire winners, though it is close, but is it too early to say the Nats have the division won?

Yes and no. It is close to impossible for the Nats to lose the division at this point and it would be one of the greatest comeback stories of all time for the Mets or Marlins, but it is still mathematically possible and baseball is about the improbably becoming reality. It isn't hard though to say that the Nationals have the division well in hand and with September call-ups their bullpen is going to get some much-needed relief.

There is an important distinction to be made between the improbable and the impossible. The Mets and Marlins have an improbable task in front of them but until the Nats clinch the division it isn't impossible. The Nats can make it impossible and can shorten the season by continuing to win. The magic number countdown has begun and it is far from too early to start getting excited about the Nats' third division championship in five years. Five straight winning seasons, might I remind you.

The last time a Washington baseball franchise had five straight winning seasons was between 1924 and 1928. I don't know if you remember the roaring 20s but I certainly don't. This run by the Nats has been historic in the realm of D.C. baseball history, but at some point they have to start having success in the postseason. For that to happen, Max Scherzer is key.

Scherzer demonstrated Tuesday night that every time he takes the mound he has a chance to do something special and the Nats are going to need that Scherzer if they stand a chance of beating the Dodgers and the Cubs to even reach the World Series. Beyond Scherzer, the Nats need a healthy Stephen Strasburg and for Tanner Roark to continue to be the surprise top of the rotation pitcher that he has become.

There is still a month left until October and the Mets or Marlins could stage an historic comeback, but it is so unlikely that it can easily be said that the Nats have the division in hand and it is not too early to start looking ahead to the postseason and trying to figure out how the Nats can beat the Dodgers and Cubs.

David Huzzard blogs about the Nationals at Citizens of Natstown. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHuzzard. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our regular roster of writers.

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