CHICAGO - With rain approaching the area and expected to arrive sometime late this afternoon or early this evening, the start of Game 4 of the National League Division Series has been delayed.
There's been no decision made yet on a full postponement of the game, but the general managers and managers from both the Nationals and Cubs met with Major League Baseball officials including chief baseball officer Joe Torre a short while ago to discuss the possibilities. They are scheduled to meet again at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time and perhaps make a final decision on the status of the game.
If postponed, Game 4 would be pushed to Wednesday at Wrigley Field, with the start time to be determined but likely to be in the afternoon, given Game 5 of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Indians is already scheduled for 8:08 p.m. EDT.
Though the conditions aren't ideal at this moment - temperatures are in the low 60s, with a stiff wind blowing in from center field - it has remained dry all day to this point, and it wouldn't be a problem to start the game as scheduled at 5:38 p.m. Eastern time. But there's a concern the rain will arrive at some point during the game and perhaps be intense enough to force a delay.
"I don't know exactly what we're going to do yet," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "But I prefer - I think everybody does - that if you start the game, you know you're going to be able to play the game, as opposed to having so many interruptions."
MLB rules stipulate that all postseason games must be played through to completion, with no rain-shortened results. So if they do start the game but are unable to complete it today, the game would officially be suspended and resumed Wednesday from that point, no matter the inning.
The decision has major ramifications for both clubs, but particularly the Nationals, who could have the option to alter their rotation in the event of a postponement. Tanner Roark is slated to start today, but the team has prepared Stephen Strasburg to start instead on normal rest if the game is pushed to Wednesday. Strasburg played catch in the outfield this afternoon but did not throw off the bullpen mound, something he would typically do 2-3 days before making a start.
The Cubs, meanwhile, intend to stick with Jake Arrieta for Game 4 regardless of when the game is played.
If the Nationals win Game 4, the series will wrap up with a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday at Nationals Park, most likely at 8:08 p.m. Eastern time.
Update: MLB officials say that they will meet at 6 p.m., with an update expected shortly after.
Update II: The game has been postponed and will be played Wednesday at 4:08 p.m. Eastern time. Game 5, if necessary, would still be played in D.C on Thursday as scheduled.
Update III: Nationals manager Dusty Baker has announced that Roark will start tomorrow's Game 4. Strasburg is aparently "under the weather," but is available shouold there be a Game 5, Baker said.