Nationals Manager Dusty Baker Welcomes Late-Season Matchup With Dodgers
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Some of the excitement over what could’ve been this weekend is tempered due to a lack of marquee pitching probables, but the three-game set between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals comes about with postseason implications.

The Dodgers enter the series with the best record in baseball. They are 3.5 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians and five games in front of the Nationals. As it stands, the Dodgers would retain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

That’s hardly secured, however, which Nationals manager Dusty Baker recently said would play a role in how his team goes about the remaining two weeks, because of the possibility they could rise to the top of the standings.

A few hours prior to first pitch Friday night, Baker said he’s glad to be facing the Dodgers this close to the playoffs beginning, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post:

If the Dodgers are to face the Nationals in the postseason it would not come until the National League Championship Series. Los Angeles eliminated Washington in winner-take-all Game 5 of the NL Division Series last October.

Although the series may serve as a preview to the 2017 NLCS, neither team is sending the top of their rotation to the mound. The Dodgers elected not to start Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish, while Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez each pitched in the series against the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers are starting Alex Wood in the opener and Rich Hill on Saturday, and the Nationals are handing the ball to Stephen Strasburg in the series finale.

Aside from the void of notable pitching matchups, this current version of the Dodgers may not resemble what the Nationals could draw one month from now. Los Angeles only recently snapped an 11-game losing streak, and are in the midst of a 3-16 stretch.

The Nationals won two of three games at Dodger Stadium in June. They lost a late lead and saw an opportunity to complete a sweep slip through their hands.