All this talk about magic numbers and the Dodgers has been solely focused on the division, but if we take a step back to look at the broader picture, we see that there is another race the Dodgers are in down the stretch.
The battle for home field advantage in the National League Division Series against the Nationals.
Understand that all the usual caveats apply here. Other than the juggernaut Cubs, nobody in baseball has won any divisions yet. But with the Dodgers up six games on the Giants with 12 games to play, and the Nationals leading the Mets by eight games, it is safe to say Los Angeles and Washington are on a collision course.
Your National League division leaders, through Monday:
Central: Cubs 95-55 (.633)
East: Nationals 88-62 (.587)
West: Dodgers 85-65 (.567)
Barring an absolute collapse by Chicago, the Cubs will finish with the best record in the league, and host the wild card winner in one NLDS. That leaves the second and third seeds to play in the other NLDS, which right now are the Nats and Dodgers.
One key here is that the Dodgers beat the Nationals in five of their six meetings in 2016, so should they finish with the same record the tiebreaker would go to Los Angeles. That means Washington has to finish with a better record than LA for home field advantage, and their magic number for NLDS home field is 10.
The Dodgers can shoot for a tie with the Nationals, which means LA's magic number for NLDS home field advantage is 15.
To put it another way, the Dodgers and Nationals each have 12 games left and don't play each other, so there are 24 different events. Los Angeles needs 15 of those 24 events to go their way to start the NLDS at home.
Both 2016 NLDS are on the same schedule, starting on Friday, Oct. 7, with a 2-2-1 format:
Game 1: Fri, Oct. 7 at home
Game 2: Sat., Oct. 8 at home
Game 3: Mon, Oct. 10 on road
Game 4: Tue, Oct. 11 on road*
Game 5: Thu. Oct. 13 at home*
The Nationals have two more games in Miami then play three against the Pirates this weekend in Pittsburgh, followed by a final-week homestand with four against the Diamondbacks then three against the Marlins.
The Dodgers play two more at home against the Giants, then host the Rockies for four games. Next week, the Dodgers play three against the Padres in San Diego followed by the final weekend with three against the Giants in San Francisco.
Marlins 4, Nationals 3
Dodgers 2, Giants 1
4:10 p.m.: Nationals (Tanner Roark) at Marlins (Jose Fernandez)
7:10 p.m.: Giants (Johnny Cueto) at Dodgers (Rich Hill)