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Washington Nationals’ 2021 season soon to be make or break...

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It was never “still early”. It’s late now. Get it going, 2021 Nationals.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, it was against the Pirates, but the Nationals earned a sweep to kickoff this week. ­After splitting a low-scoring four game set against the Giants, Washington was looking for some momentum as we head into the heart of summer. With 3-2, 8-1, and 3-1 wins, the Nats did just that.

The Nationals are currently winners of four consecutive wins, including five of their last six.

Over their last 10 games, the team is 6-4. Many use the last 10 games as a marker for how well a team is performing. Ideally, a team would be 10-0 but that’s not often realistic. The fact is, the Nationals’ 6-4 mark is right where a team wants to be. Go 6-4 all season and you’ll win 97 games.

The truth is this: The Nationals need this recent surge in wins. Toiling in last place for more of the season than the organization would care to, suspicions were arising throughout the fandom that maybe – just maybe – this team was destined for nothing more than a share of the bottom of the division and that the curtain was closing on the tenure of those like Max Scherzer.

This team is far from popping champagne bottles in October, but we were left looking for signs of life. A three-game sweep is nothing to scoff at, even if it’s against a club that’s in a race to the bottom of the league. Any type of momentum to get the rest of the season kickstarted is a welcome addition to the ups-and-downs that have plagued this team in 2021.

The road ahead won’t get any easier. The Nationals still need their bats to start performing in a more meaningful way (in five of their last seven games, they’ve scored three or fewer runs); they’ll need the starting rotation to act as though it’s getting paid more than one-hundred million dollars, as well.

Coming down the line is a string of divisional foes. Next up: The New York Mets for four; then they’ll hit the road to play the Philadelphia Phillies twice before hooking up with the (now) last place Miami Marlins for four games in Florida.

Then there is a quick makeup game against the Mets at home before the schedule really heats up before the All-Star break.

This is the moment we’ve perhaps been waiting for. Assuming the Nationals can win some games in their upcoming divisional matchups, the season could be made or broken during the three weeks following those games.

After engaging the Mets for that one-off game, they’ll host the Tampa Bay Rays (43-26 1st AL East) for two games; then they’ll tango with the Los Angeles Dodgers (41-26, 2nd NL West) for four games. After that, a road trip ensues leading up to the All-Star break where they’ll face the San Diego Padres (38-32, 3rd NL West) for four games at Petco Park, then the San Francisco Giants (42-25, 1st NL West) for three games at Oracle Park.

After the break, who do they meet? The Padres – again.

This is going to be an incredibly daunting portion of the schedule for Washington. It will surely test their meddle and resolve as they try to labor through the difficult slew of games. If they have a bad showing, then this season will likely end up being a footnote in Nats’ history in many ways.

But if they pick up wins in those series, the season may take on a very different complexion. Even though going 8-5 in those games won’t propel the Nationals to first place in the NL East, it will surely give them a confidence boost to keep charging through the rest of the calendar.

The Nats have needed something to jumpstart them all season as they’ve sputtered along.

Although this stretch of games might not be the arduous catalyst they had in mind, there’s no better time this season to begin reeling off wins than now.