If the MLB season stopped today (which, of course, it doesn't), the Nationals and Phillies would face off in the NL Wild Card game. But after those two teams, the Cardinals, Brewers, and Mets sit just a game back.
As the Mets continue their meteoric rise up the standings (winners of 13 out of 14 and six in a row), one of those teams at the top is still without its best player.
Max Scherzer has been on the IL two separate times for a back issue, and it sounds like his current IL stint isn't expected to end in the near future.
According to MLB.com's Jamal Collier, Nats skipper Dave Martinez said on Wednesday that Scherzer is expected to miss at least one more start, with Collier noting that Scherzer will 'almost certainly spend more time on the injured list.'
Scherzer, 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 20 starts this season, initially landed on the IL after feeling some discomfort in his back during a June 30 start. He came back to pitch five innings of three-run ball against the Rockies on July 25, but he ended up back on IL the next day due to a strained rhomboid muscle in is back.
Any time that the three-time Cy Young winner misses is obviously detrimental to the Nationals and a good thing for the Mets, but it will help the Mets particularly this weekend, when the Nationals come to Citi Field for a three-game series.
The Mets and Nats will face off one more time after this weekend, when the Mets travel to Nationals Park for a three-game set in the first week of September.