We don't want to be alarmists, but tonight's game is pretty much a must win. If the Nationals lose, they're five games back in the Wild Card Race with less than a month to go, and they won't have much hope of making that up. Could they? Sure, but almost everything would have to go right, and when is the last time everything went right for the Nationals? Well, most everything went right in June, so we guess a comeback from a five game deficit is possible.
While we're on the subject of tonight's game (we just looked at the subject line of this post), let's consider John Patterson, tonight's starter, who may be the second most valuable pitcher in baseball this year. Before you start throwing canned hams at us, think about it. Patterson may be the seventh best pitcher in all of baseball this year, with an ERA of 2.44 and a VORP of 54.4, only 2.3 points behind that Pedro Martinez guy. But all but one of the pitchers ahead of Patterson make at least $2 million this year, and some of them make staggering sums of money. Patterson, on the other hand, makes only $322,500 this year. That gives the Nationals a phenomenal return on their money, and had they invested their remaining money more wisely, they would have been a much better team. The only other pitcher in the top seven who makes money comparable to Patterson is Dontrelle Willis, who has slightly better stats and makes $378,500. We'll give Willis the nod over Patterson, and call John the second most valuable pitcher in baseball.
With their best pitcher on the mound, this is really a game the Nats must win. Let's hope Patterson can come through tonight. Go Nats!