Three of the four spots in the league championship series are set, with only the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers left to decide who will advance.

The divisional series provided plenty of drama, between the Toronto Blue Jays’ walk-off win to the Chicago Cubs’ improbable comeback in Game 4. On the other hand, these two teams and the Cleveland Indians combined to lose just one game as they advanced to the next round of the playoffs.

Fans will at least get to watch one winner-take-all battle in the opening round, and this has the potential to exceed expectations. Here is what you need to know for the final NLDS battle.


Dodgers vs. Nationals

When: Thursday, Oct. 13

Where: Nationals Park; Washington, D.C.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports 1

Odds (via Odds Shark): Dodgers (+135), Nationals (-150)



As with most baseball games, the biggest story coming in is the pitching probables. The Nationals will use their ace in Max Scherzer, while the Dodgers will start Rich Hill on only three days’ rest. While both pitchers had outstanding seasons, they are each coming off poor showings so far in the postseason.

Scherzer, who is a top contender for the NL Cy Young Award, allowed four runs in six innings in a Game 1 loss. The talented pitcher took full responsibility for the loss after the game. 

“Giving up those two home runs, I really feel like that was the difference in the ballgame,” Scherzer said Friday, per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press. “I’m accountable for that and I’ll shoulder that and I’ll take the blame for that. I know I’m capable of executing pitches at a higher level, and I’ve got to do it.”

While Scherzer does have a bad game every now and then, Nationals fans should be happy about the fact he rarely doubles up on these performances. Only once during the regular season did the veteran pitcher allow more than four runs in back-to-back starts.

Hill is also coming off an impressive season where he posted a 2.12 ERA, but there are more question marks for him entering Thursday’s game. The 36-year-old starter doesn’t go deep into games ordinarily, averaging 85.2 pitches per game with the Dodgers this year. Coming back on short rest, it would be almost a miracle for him to top five innings.

As Holden Kushner of TuneIn noted, Los Angeles will use as many pitchers as needed:

Julio Urias won’t get the start, but you can be certain the 20-year-old lefty will see the field at some point in this important game.

No matter who is on the mound for the Dodgers, however, it will be a serious challenge to keep this Nationals lineup off the scoreboard.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today gave praise for the red-hot Daniel Murphy after his four-RBI performance in Game 4:

Murphy is hitting .462 in the postseason a year after breaking out in the playoffs with the New York Mets. Meanwhile, Jayson Werth (.467), Trea Turner (.353) and Ryan Zimmerman (.333) have been outstanding as well in the four games to this point. If Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon play to their abilities, this could be a high-scoring effort.

The Dodgers just haven’t seen the same type of effort from their offense with the exception of Justin Turner. Even Corey Seager has lacked consistency outside of a few big hits.

At the least, Washington should be able to get enough runs at home to give Scherzer breathing room. The starter can take care of the rest and lead the Nationals into the NLCS.

Prediction: Nationals 4, Dodgers 2


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