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NLDS notes: Nationals rotation plans, Dodgers 2 back with 4 to play

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Dodgers and Nationals both lost on Wednesday, but with another day checked off the regular season calendar the more likely it is that the National League Division Series will begin in Washington D.C.

The Nationals and Diamondbacks were hammered by rain on Wednesday, with two long delays. In between, Arizona tallied single runs in the first, third and fourth innings, and got five scoreless innings out of Shelby Miller. The game was called in the top of the sixth inning, giving the Diamondbacks a 3-0 win.

The Dodgers hit three home runs at Petco Park on Wednesday, but still lost 6-5 to the Padres, dropping their second straight game in San Diego.

LA trails Washington by two games with four remaining days on the schedule.

Nationals 92-66 (.582)
Dodgers 90-68 (.570) 2 GB

Even though the Dodgers own the tiebreaker between the two teams, they still need six of the final eight games to fall their way for home field advantage in the NLDS.

Put another way, the Nationals’ magic number to clinch NLDS home field advantage is three. The earliest they could sew that up is Friday. The earliest the Dodgers could clinch home field advantage is Saturday.

As for the NLDS itself, the Nationals’ rotation is taking shape behind ace Max Scherzer, though the team hasn’t officially announced anything just yet, with one left-handed starter at most. From Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:

Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark will presumably toe the rubber in Games 1 and 2, respectively, for the Nationals. Washington’s Game 3 starter is less certain, but General Manager Mike Rizzo said in a radio interview Wednesday morning that Gio Gonzalez is the likely choice. Gonzalez is a left-hander, and the Dodgers have the lowest on-base and slugging percentages against left-handed pitching this season. The other option for Game 3 would be right-hander Joe Ross.

The Dodgers didn’t face Scherzer this season. They beat Roark and won a game started by Ross, both in Los Angeles, and lost to Gonzalez in Washington on July 20, the only Nationals win against the Dodgers in 2016.

All three pitchers had quality starts against the Dodgers this year, combining for a 2.75 ERA in 19⅔ innings, with 16 strikeouts and three walks.

Wednesday scores

Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 0 (6)

Padres 6, Dodgers 5

Thursday schedule

10:05 a.m. PT: Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray) at Nationals (Joe Ross)

6:10 p.m.: Dodgers (Julio Urias) at Padres (Christian Friedrich)