The Washington Nationals tiptoed past the July 31st trade deadline rather quietly, with just a single move made in acquiring impact pitcher Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies. In exchange, the Phillies receive a young hurler in Nick Pivetta in addition to cash considerations. League-wide, the Papelbon move was seen as an act of desperation after losing 11 of their last 18 games following the all-star break that’s seen them lose their first place standing in their division. The Nats now stand at 55-50, one full game behind the new NL East leading New York Mets.
With just under a third of regular season play remaining and the Nats’ playoff dreams slowly coming down to earth, GM Mike Rizzo made the trade with a win-now mentality. By bringing the 34-year old veteran who submitted a 1.59 ERA in 37 games for the Phillies this season to Nationals Park, Washington adds a veteran closer to replace the already productive Drew Storen. Together, this pair is one of the best in the NL and their bolstered roster came without giving up much at all.
Graphic via almostsideways
However, even with the Nats’ mid-season acquisition of Papelbon, the concerns remain the same. The addition of the Louisiana native is very nice and is an upgrade to the former rotation but is it enough to make the run they hoped for? The new line-up will have fans at National Park excited night-in and night-out with Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth all returning from the sidelines.
However, what makes the final playoff stretch favorable is not the acquisition or the rotation-free injury, it’s the remainder of the Washington Nationals schedule. With 37 of their lingering 57 games coming against teams with a losing record, the Nats have to be seen as a serious contender for at least a playoff spot. Additionally, while the Mets appear to be pulling away with the NL East title amidst Washington’s struggles, the Nats will have a generous opportunity to redeem themselves with six remaining games against New York’s second team. While three of those games will be played at Nationals Park, it looks like it may even come down to the final stretch, as the three final games of the Washington Nationals schedule will be played at Citi field.
Graphic via bleacherreport