Projecting the Nationals NLDS Game 1 & 2 start times

Last season, MLB announced the start times for the ALDS and NLDS Games 1 and 2 in the late afternoon on September 30, the day after the regular season ended. That means we can expect to learn sometime today when the Nats will take the field for their first two playoff games at Nats Park.

However, if you can’t wait, or MLB drops the ball and doesn’t make the announcement today, here’s our best projection.

On Friday, October 3, there are 4 MLB playoff games. The 4 playoff games will be hosted by the Nationals, Dodgers, Angels, and Orioles.

MLB will of course stagger the start times of the 4 games on October 3 to maximize viewership. Last season, the start times for the 4 LDS games played on the same day were 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, and 9:30pm EST. It seems unlikely the schedule would change this year.

This year, the Dodgers or Angels would be given the late slot since they are West Coast teams. If the Dodgers are given the late night slot, there’s no chance the Nationals game will be a night game, since MLB will not put both National League games in prime time (they didn’t last year). If the Angels are given the late night slot, the Nationals will also likely be bumped to the daytime, the Dodgers cannot be given a time slot before noon Pacific Standard Time (last year, the games alternated between American and National League games).

So, here are the likely schedules:

Scenario One:

9:30 EST — Cardinals at Dodgers

6pm — Wild Card (Royals/A’s) at Angels

3pm — Wild Card (Giants/Pirates) at Nationals

12pm — Tigers at Orioles

Scenario Two:

9:30 EST — Wild Card (Royals/A’s) at Angels

6pm — Cardinals at Dodgers

3pm — Tigers at Orioles

12pm — Wild Card (Giants/Pirates) at Nationals

There are only two games, both National League games, scheduled for Saturday, October 4. Based on last year, they will likely be played at 5:30pm and 9pm EST. The Nationals will almost surely have the earlier game. The Dodgers playing on the West Coast are much more likely to have the later game, and the Dodgers/Cardinals matchup is far more likely to command a bigger prime time audience (particularly if the Pirates win the Wild Card game). If you observe Yom Kippur, your best case scenario is a noon game on Friday for Game 1. Yom Kippur ends around 6:30pm on Saturday, which means you should start getting in the Ben’s Chili Bowl line around the beginning of the third inning of Game 2.

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One thought on “Projecting the Nationals NLDS Game 1 & 2 start times”

  1. Per MLB’s website, the ALDS (both series) are on TBS and the NLDS (both series) are on FS1, with overlap games on MLB Network for games 2 & 3.

    TBS’s listings for Friday include sitcoms until 5:30 with pregame at 5:30 and games starting at 6 and 9:30. So it seems clear the AL games start at 6 and 9:30. It seems therefore that the O’s must start at 6 and the Angels must start at 9:30 on the West Coast.

    FS1’s listings for Friday 10/3 show NASCAR practice from 1:30-2:30, TBD from 2:30-4, TBD from 4-7, Fox Sports Live from 7-8, and then “TBD” again from 8-11. While a little less clear, it seems like they will show a pregame from 2:30-4 with the NLDS games at 4 and 8. This at least raises the hope that the Dodgers could host the 4pm EDT game (1pm PDT) and we could be the 8pm game. I could argue that this is even the most likely scenario because it means the Angels and Dodgers don’t play at the same time on opposite networks in the SoCal market. So let’s hope for 8pm Friday!

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