Chicago Cubs: Breaking down potential playoff opponents

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Aug 23, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder

Bryce Harper

(34) bats against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals

For Washington, the 2015 campaign has been largely forgettable.

Widely considered a frontrunner to win the World Series before the season started, Washington has underperformed for most of the year, battling injuries and other issues that put them in their current predicament.

Entering a series with the Mets Monday, Washington had won five-straight, sitting just four back of New York in the division. With the wild card a long-shot (they’re 7-1/2 back of Chicago), chasing down the Mets seems to be the Nats’ only chance.

If the Nationals fail to pull off a comeback in the NL East, Matt Williams will, in all likelihood, be looking for a new job come the Winter Meetings.

Bryce Harper is going to win the NL MVP, barring something crazy – making him one of the youngest ever to take home the honors. However, apart from Harper and corner infielder Ryan Zimmerman, who has been white-hot lately, the offense hasn’t been as potent as hoped.

Zim has driven in two dozen runs and hit seven home runs over the course of the past two weeks, posting a 1.263 OPS in the process. For those of you who don’t follow Washington, he hit those seven in 12 games – in his other 82 games, he knocked just nine.

The pitching staff, which was supposed to carry this team to a title, has been a complete train wreck. Every time you turn around, Stephen Strasburg is battling another ailment, Doug Fister has a 4.74 FIP just one year after finishing eighth in Cy Young voting and Max Scherzer has looked increasingly human of-late.

If the offense keeps firing on all cylinders and the front-end of the rotation can get back on-track, it may not only save the team’s postseason chances, but also manager Matt Williams’ job.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals