What we know about the NLDS start times

For everyone with kids, jobs, and religious holidays to observe, we are trying to figure out when the Nationals will play on Friday and Saturday. Here’s what we know and don’t know.

– Last season, the four NLDS/ALDS games played on the same day were played at 1pm, 3pm, 6pm, and 9:30pm EST. There’s no guarantee that’ll happen again because baseball has a new TV contract this season.

– The 2 ALDS games on Friday will be played on TBS. The 2 NLDS games will be played on Fox Sports1 or the MLB Network. The TBS website lists game start times at 6pm EST and 9:30 EST, with regular programming before then. The Fox Sports1 website lists “To Be Announced” under the time blocks of 2:30-4pm, 4-7pm, and 8-11 EST. The 2:30-4pm time block certainly isn’t long enough for a game, but it’s long enough for a pregame show. The 4-7pm and 8-11pm blocks are long enough for a game, however.

– Despite staggering the times last season, the above TV schedules make it appear there will be games at 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, and 9:30pm. Staggering the start times may have been the strategy for MLB is seasons past, but maybe MLB is now looking to air the games later in the day, closer together, giving their NLDS/ALDS coverage more of a March Madness feel with multiple games going on at the same time.

– There were Twitter rumors today that Nationals Park ushers were warned the Friday game could be as early as 1pm and also the Lerners asked for a 1pm start to ensure the game was over before Yom Kippur. These are just rumors, but I thought they were worth sharing.

– Using the above times on the Fox Sports1 website, it appears the Nats will play at either 4pm or 8pm, which wouldn’t help those observing Yom Kippur, but that difference is huge for those with jobs.

– The Dodgers will play the Cardinals on Friday, while the Nationals will play either the Pirates or the Giants, depending on who wins the Wild Card game on Wednesday night. Under either scenario, one would imagine the Dodgers-Cardinals matchup drawing a bigger nationwide audience. Perhaps MLB and Fox are waiting to see if the Giants or Pirates advance, since Nationals-Pirates is probably the worst matchup for ratings. But in either scenario, the Dodgers and Cardinals are the bigger draw and most likely to get a prime time slot.

– Using all of this incomplete information, our best guess is that you’ll still have to take off work on Friday to see the Nats game, which will probably be a 4pm start. Saturday’s game will probably also be a late afternoon/early start as well (there are only 2 games on Saturday).

– Finally, a source with the Nationals told me today we probably won’t know the times until Wednesday night after the NL Wild Card game. I certainly hope my source is wrong, but with MLB, nothing would surprise me. They always, excuse me, ALWAYS, put the preference of their TV partners over the convenience of their fans.

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