WASHINGTON — Right now, 19-31 is just a distant memory for the Washington Nationals.

Even without Max Scherzer for all but one game over the past month-plus, even with recurring bullpen issues, even though they dug themselves quite a hole, the Nationals are suddenly 65-55 – 10 games over .500 for the first time in 14 months.

What’s more, they’re leading the NL wild-card standings as they head into Friday’s opener of a three-game series against one of the clubs chasing them for a playoff berth: reigning league MVP Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Winning the NL East presents more of a challenge, because Washington entered Thursday trailing the first-place Atlanta Braves by six games. The rivals play each other seven more times, though: four games at Atlanta on Sept. 5-8, and three at Washington on Sept. 13-15.

Lefty Patrick Corbin (9-5, 3.41 ERA) is scheduled to start the series opener, but otherwise, Washington hasn’t announced who its pitchers will be Saturday or Sunday.

MARLINS: Hoping to boost their league-worst attendance, the Marlins will be experimenting with earlier start times next season.

In a schedule change for 2020, Miami is moving up all Monday-Thursday home games in April, May and September by 30 minutes. The Marlins, who’ve traditionally started night games at 7:10 p.m., will now play those games at 6:40 p.m.

The decision seems to be an appeal toward attracting younger fans to the ballpark. The three months coincide with the school schedule for kids.

DIAMONDBACKS: The Arizona Diamondbacks placed left-hander Robbie Ray on the 10-day injured list because of lower back spasms.

Ray was removed from Wednesday’s start at Colorado while warming up before the start of the third inning. He gave up one run and one hit, and the Diamondbacks went on to a 7-6 loss.

The 27-year-old Ray is 10-7 with a 3.99 ERA. He ranks among the NL leaders with 187 strikeouts in 142 innings.

Ray’s turn in the starting rotation comes up next Monday.
The Diamondbacks also promoted right-handers Stefan Crichton and Jon Duplantier from Triple-A Reno. Outfielder Tim Locastro was optioned to their top farm club.

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