After another slow start to the 2021 season, the Nationals have completely turned their season around. Washington had an incredible month of June, winning 14 of their last 17, and sit just two games behind the Mets for first place in the NL East entering Thursday's games.
For veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals' current hot streak is the perfect testament to why the Major League Baseball season is 162 games long.
"We're starting to play well. We knew we had a good team," Zimmerman said on the Sports Junkies. "We talked a few weeks ago and how we were starting to play better and how a lot of these guys have been through what we did in '19 and how [manager] Davey [Martinez] is so good at bringing the same attitude every day. This is why you got to do it. This is why we play 162 games."
Of course, Zimmerman's mention of the 2019 season is one that Nationals fans will never forget, going from a 19-31 record in May to World Series champions in October. Just last week, Zimmerman was asked if this year's club reminds him of that historic run they went on two years ago.
Not only are the Nationals playing exceptionally well right now, but they've also gone on this heater without some of their most important pitchers. Stephen Strasburg remains sidelined with a neck strain, while multiple bullpen arms have recently hit the Injured List.
"I say the scary thing is that we haven't had Daniel Hudson, we haven't had Kyle Finnegan for the last week or 10 days," Zimmerman said. "Obviously Stras has been out. It seems like those guys are all obviously getting better. So if we can keep this roll going and then start getting those guys back, then you're really starting to do something."
As the Nationals keep winning, the gap between them and the Mets for first place in the division continues to shrink. But, with so many games remaining on the schedule, Zimmerman is only focused on what the Nationals are doing on a daily basis.
"There are so many games left, there are going to be times where the team you're chasing wins eight of nine or something like that," Zimmerman said. "Then there are going to be times where they don't play so well. Right now, you can't really worry about that."
In his 16 year career, Zimmerman has been a part of five postseason runs. He understands what's at stake now and what's at stake come September, when the games start to matter a bit more. That's when he begins to scoreboard watch and see what other teams are doing on a nightly basis.
"But I think once you get to September, that's when you really start getting into how many are they behind or what the magic number is, or if you're chasing a Wild Card," Zimmerman said. "Not saying it doesn't matter now -- wins matter all the time -- but we have so many games left that it's kind of hard to look at that right now."
Right now, though, Zimmerman is just enjoying the ride.
"We're in a good spot. We've got to keep going," he said. "But it's been a fun last week and a half, two weeks."