The Braves beat the Phillies 2-1 on Sunday to pull within 4 1/2 games of the Nationals in the NL East. With Chien-Ming Wang getting a spot start, the Nationals lost to the Brewers 6-2.
Now, with a five-game lead in the loss column and just 10 left to play, the Nationals are still sitting pretty. However, just look at the remaining schedules for both:
Washington: vs. Mil, 3 @Phi, 3 @StL, 3 vs. Phi
Atlanta: 3 vs. Mia, 3 vs. NYM, 3 @Pit
While the Phillies have dropped from three games to five games back of the Cardinals in the wild card by losing to the Braves the last two days, they’re not giving up yet. Perhaps they will be the time that last series of the season rolls around. But for now, the Nationals have at least seven more tough games ahead of them.
The Braves, on the other hand, got three of baseball’s coldest teams left on the schedule. The Mets have won three in a row, but that’s only because they’ve been facing the Marlins.
Atlanta could well go 8-1 to finish the season. If that happens, the Nationals would need to go 5-5 to win the division outright.
Maybe it won’t materialize. The Braves, for what it’s worth, have already lined up their rotation so that Kris Medlen would start the one-game wild card playoff. They’re not going to go all out and play Chipper Jones nine straight in an attempt to overtake the Nationals. They might drift a bit and lose a couple to inferior teams. If so, the Nationals would have nothing to worry about. Still, until that happens, it’d probably be for the best that we don’t see Wang on the mound again.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.