The Nationals kept their slim postseason hopes alive Tuesday night with a 4-0 win over the Phillies (box score). Washington is 8 1/2 games behind the Mets with 18 games to play. Our Sportsline Projection Model puts their postseason odds at 0.4 percent.
Bryce Harper led the Nats to their win Tuesday with a pair of home runs, his 38th and 39th of the season. Following the game, he gave his unwavering support to manager Matt Williams, who is very much on the hot seat these days. Here's what Harper told the Associated Press:
"He does everything he can to help me," Harper said. "He's unbelievable with the mind game, talking about hitting."
There's been speculation Williams could lose his job because the talented Nationals underachieved this season, but the team's best player gave him a strong endorsement.
"I love him as a manager. If I didn't, everybody would know it," Harper said. "He wants us to be perfect and I love that."
Harper's support might not be enough to save Williams' job, however. The Nationals came into the season as not only NL East favorites, but as World Series favorites. Instead they're going to miss the postseason despite Harper's historically great season.
Williams has contributed to the team's disappointing season with some odd managerial decisions. Also, when a team falls this far short of expections, someone usually takes the fall, and the manager is the easiest guy to cut loose.
Harper, by the way, now leads the NL in batting average (.338) and home runs (39). He is 21 RBI short of the Triple Crown.