When the baseball schedule was first released, not many expected a late May series between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies to be one with a lot of importance. While many may have expected the series to feature the division leader and the team in the cellar, it is a safe bet that not many expected the Phillies to be in the cellar and the Nationals to be near the top, a few games behind the Atlanta Braves for the division lead.
It may not have been the expected result but nevertheless that is how things have shaken out and that is likely what will be the story of the series.
For the Phillies, this series is almost make or break. They are coming off of a stretch which saw them win seven of their last 11 games, but which also included two back-to-back losses against the struggling, under .500 Boston Red Sox. During this stretch the Phillies got their record above .500 for the first time since their season opening win.
With the Nationals in a bit of a slide, the Braves have taken over first place. Their record is good enough for third best in MLB and as they keep winning, it is going to become harder and harder for the Phillies to catch up to them, especially if they do not manage to win this series against the Nationals.
It won't be easy, but the Phillies have been a much better team in May. Also, with the injuries the Nationals have suffered, the Phils would be primed to take advantage. As the Nationals are a young and up and coming team, winning this series would be a small way that the Phillies could prove to their NL East opponents, that their reign at the top is not yet over.