The Nationals and Dodgers will be battling not only aces on the mound, but possibly late-afternoon shadows and the emergence of the Sun Monster when they open the National League Division Series with a pair of contests later this week.
Game 1 of the best-of-five series will start at 5:38 p.m. Friday, Major League Baseball announced today. First pitch for Game 2 is slated for 4:08 p.m. Saturday.
Starting times for the remainder of the series (Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles and a potential Game 5 in Washington) will be announced later.
It's no surprise the first two games at Nationals Park will take place in the afternoon. The presence of the highly popular Cubs in the NL's other Division Series all but guaranteed prime time slots, pushing the Nats and Dodgers up in the day.
Game 1 actually will be the third out of four postseason games to be played on Friday. Both American League Game 2's will start earlier in the afternoon (the wild card winner at Texas at 1:08 p.m., Boston at Cleveland at 4:38 p.m.)
The late-afternoon starts in D.C. could lead to some tough shadows covering the plate for batters digging against projected Game 1 starters Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Outfielders also could have to battle what Bryce Harper famously termed the Sun Monster in 2012: a low, bright sun that hovers just over the upper deck at Nationals Park this time of year.
Then again, shadows and glare may not be much of an issue at all, based on the early weekend forecast. It is expected to be partly cloudy (increasing into the evening) on Friday, with a high temperature of 71 degrees. There's currently a 40 percent chance of rain on Saturday, with a high temperature of 72.
Both Games 1 and 2 will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.