Well, here we go. Tonight the Nationals take the field for a ballgame that both feels familiar and yet completely foreign. It’s another winner-take-all home game in October, the fourth in eight years for this team. But it’s the first wild card game, so that gives tonight’s proceedings an entirely different context.

So much of the talk leading up to this game has been about the Nationals’ pitching plan. And certainly it will be important who Davey Martinez decides to use after Max Scherzer and when he decides to use them. But let’s not forget they still need to score runs against a Brewers pitching staff that’s better than you think.

Brandon Woodruff will start, and he has the ability to be very good, but he’s probably only slated for three or four innings. Jordan Lyles, who was outstanding for the Brewers after his acquisition from the Pirates, is probably going to be first out of the bullpen. And, of course, Josh Hader looms in the later innings.

Parra-Swing-White-sidebar.jpgMartinez’s lineup is the best one he could put out there from an offensive standpoint. Howie Kendrick bats fifth, with Asdrúbal Cabrera sixth and Kurt Suzuki seventh. It’s not the Nationals’ best defensive alignment, but there will be a chance to make changes later on if they hold a lead. Martinez also has plenty of interesting options to pinch-hit (Matt Adams, Gerardo Parra, Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Dozier) and pinch-run (Michael A. Taylor, Andrew Stevenson).

So there you have it. The stage is set. The season either ends tonight or continues with a five-game National League Division Series against the Dodgers. Buckle up.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD GAME
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 8:08 p.m. EDT
TV: TBS, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, MLB.com
Weather: Clear, 80 degrees, wind 6 mph out to left field

NATIONALS (93-69)
SS Trea Turner
RF Adam Eaton
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Juan Soto
1B Howie Kendrick
2B Asdrúbal Cabrera
C Kurt Suzuki
CF Victor Robles
RHP Max Scherzer

BREWERS (89-73)
RF Trent Grisham
C Yasmani Grandal
3B Mike Moustakas
2B Keston Hiura
LF Ryan Braun
1B Eric Thames
CF Lorenzo Cain
SS Orlando Arcia
RHP Brandon Woodruff

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