Can they keep it up? - Winners of 11 of their last 16 games, the Nats enter Monday coming off their best stretch of the 2013 season. They haven't gained much ground on the Reds who hold the final NL Wild Card spot, but they are close to overtaking the Diamondbacks to be the first team out. As Mark explained this morning, it is still very unlikely they can make up enough ground to qualify for the playoffs. It makes you wonder where this type of run was a month ago, or even earlier. But regardless of whether it's enough to put them into the postseason, it's encouraging to see the Nats haven't packed it in and given up on this year.
Dog days of the NL East - The Nationals play their next 26 games against division rivals, a stretch that will take them all the way until their final two series of the season. Over the next month they'll play the Marlins three times, the Mets and Phillies each twice, and the Braves for one final matchup of the 2013 season. Most of those teams, of course, are behind the Nats in the standings and it should present an opportunity for Washington to continue their recent surge. It may not be enough to make the playoffs, but a winning season, or perhaps as many as 85 wins by the end of the year, aren't out of the question.
Strasburg to set career-high - At 156 innings pitched so far this season, Stephen Strasburg is likely one start away from setting a career-high. Last year he was shut down at 159 1/3 as part of his recovery from Tommy John surgery and he should easily surpass that mark this season. How Strasburg fares over the next month will be interesting to watch as this is new territory for him. The goal for this season remains 200 innings and hitting that milestone should set him up to be the durable ace he wants to be.
Will Haren be traded? - The Nationals have already made a pair of trades via the waiver wire, acquiring David DeJesus and then promptly sending him to Tampa. But they still have Dan Haren who has cleared waivers and is currently on the trading block. Haren has a 2.53 ERA since he returned from the disabled list in July and may interest a team in the playoff hunt. A report has surfaced the Nats are seeking multiple prospects for Haren, which sounds high. We'll see if their asking price will come down to meet an offer.