This is the Nationals’ third division title in the last five years (2012, 2014, 2016). Washington returns to the postseason a year after going 83–79 and missing out on the playoffs, a season which ended with the firing of manager Matt Williams and hiring of Dusty Baker.
The Nats are NL East champions despite a relatively subpar year from last year’s MVP, Bryce Harper, who has hit .243 with 24 home runs, 84 RBIs and an .818 OPS. In August, SI.com’s Tom Verducci reported that Harper has been dealing with a right shoulder injury.
Off-season acquisition Daniel Murphy has led Washington’s offense, hitting .347 with 25 homers, 104 RBIs and a .391 on-base percentage. The Nationals have also been buoyed by rookie outfielder Trea Turner, who was called up in early June and has hit .336 with 12 home runs and 27 stolen bases.
Earlier this month, ace Stephen Strasburg was diagnosed with a flexor strain. His playoff status is uncertain, but Washington’s rotation still has the likes of Tanner Roark (2.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and Max Scherzer (2.82 ERA, 0.93 WHIP), the latter of whom leads the majors in strikeouts with 267.
The Nationals (90–64) are currently on track to face the Dodgers in the NLDS with home-field advantage.