Unless you are projecting for the Golden State Warriors these days - or the Washington Capitals, for that matter - trying to add up wins and losses simply by looking at a schedule can be a fruitless exercise, no matter the sport. But, based on the records of their opponents last season, the Nationals have a much more favorable road in April than they do in May. And, one could argue, their April schedule is also easier than that of the New York Mets.
The Nationals, in fact, do not face a team that qualified for the 2015 playoffs until they at the St. Louis Cardinals on April 29, their 23rd game of the season. That's 22 games until they see a playoff team, or 13.5 percent of their 162-game schedule. The Nats' opponents pre-St. Louis had an average win percentage of .438 in 2015, or a 71-win pace over the course of a full season.
The Nats do not play a team that posted a winning record until they see the Minnesota Twins at home on April 22, their 17th game. The Twins were 83-79, just barely above the .500 mark. Though, to be fair, they appear to be a team on the rise and could very well make the playoffs this season.
Before the Nats see the Twins, they get the Braves and Marlins twice, and the Phillies once for a three-game series on the road. Division opponents should never be overlooked, but odds are that at least two of those teams will be woeful once again in 2016.
The Mets, conversely, have a relatively tough road in their opening month. Not only do they have less home games (11) than the Nats (13) do, they open with the defending World Series-champion Royals in Kansas City. Three series later they play at the Cleveland Indians, who posted a winning record in 2015. They then close the month with the San Francisco Giants, a team that may have missed the playoffs last season with an 84-78 record, but they loaded up this winter and are always one of the toughest opponents to face in baseball.
The opponents and amount of home games tilt in Washington's favor early on, but here's the most important thing to note about the Nats' early schedule: May is going to be brutal.
In May the Nationals will finish their series at the Cardinals, then go at the Royals, then at the Cubs - the odds-on World Series favorites - for four games. After that it's three games against the Tigers.
Following the Tigers the Nats see the Mets and Marlins twice apiece before another four games against the Cardinals. In May the Nats will play nine consecutive series against teams that have the talent to make the playoffs, depending on what you think of the Marlins, who will have Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez back this season.
An argument can easily be made that May is the toughest part of the Nationals schedule, which makes a good start in April that much more important, especially considering it's a somewhat favorable stretch compared to their most formidable counterparts, the New York Mets.