There are just two long homestands remaining in 2011, and just 26 home games between now and the end of the season. While the Nationals aren’t in the midst of a playoff hunt, there are still a lot of good reasons to head out to the ballpark before the end of the season.
This homestand should be interesting for a couple reasons. First has everything to do with the draft last night. The Nationals signed all of their last five draft picks last night in a flurry of late-night activity, and there’s a decent chance some of these guys will come to DC to meet with the team. Last year, we saw Robbie Ray make a surprise visit to the Nationals shortly after the draft. It’s possible we might see Anthony Rendon or Alex Meyer or Kylin Turnbull or Matt Purke here in Washington this home stand.
In addition, we’re coming to the end of Jordan Zimmermann’s season, as he’s hitting his innings limit soon. Recovery from Tommy John surgery is a long process, and with 145 IP already on the books this season, he’s coming rapidly up on the 160 IP total that the club is rumored to have for him. With two starts for him likely on this home stand, if you want to see him this season, you’d better be out at Nats Park on Thursday night or Monday next.
The Nationals face the Reds (59-62, 3rd in the Central), the Phillies (78-41, 1st in the East), and the Diamondbacks (68-53, 1st in the West), which means you’re going to see a pair of teams who will likely find themselves in the playoffs, and the Reds. We had hoped that the return of the Diamondbacks would’ve been the return of Jason Marquis to Nationals Park, but as he’s nursing a broken fibula, that won’t happen this year.
Prediction: Nats take two of three from the Reds, lose two of three to the Phillies, and split the series with the D-backs, best case. There’s a worst case here, too, which sees a home sweep by the Phillies, and a 1-3 run against Arizona to make this a 3-7 home stand. I’d say we’re looking more along the lines of 5-5, but some of those games can go either way.
The Nationals have figured out a lot of the good promotions this season, and this home stand is no exception. Wednesday night is $1 Hotdog night, while supplies last, for example, and there are $2 tickets left available for tonight’s homestand opener. In addition, there’s a $1 Monday next week against Arizona where tickets, water, hotdogs, peanuts and even parking are just a buck. In addition, Ian Desmond’s bobble-head night is Saturday night for the first 15,000 fans.