Pirates' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 19, 2012

Pirates' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 19, 2012

Pirates' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 19, 2012
PITTSBURGH -- Tuesday's 6-0 loss to the Brewers dropped the Pirates farther out of a playoff spot -- 3 1/2 games -- than they have been all season. It also pushed them one game behind the Brewers, who had trailed them by 12 1/2 games exactly a month ago.

The Bucs' hopes of yet another turnaround rest in the hands of rookie Kyle McPherson, who makes his first big league start on Wednesday night against Milwaukee. Manager Clint Hurdle's wish: that McPherson turns into either Ubaldo Jimenez or Manuel Corpas, two rookies who helped the 2007 Rockies virtually win out and crash the playoffs.

Andrew McCutchen will be trying to snap out of a two-game funk (0-for-6) that has lowered his average to .339. He trails Melky Cabrera's frozen .346 for the National League batting title.

Wednesday's key games to watch (all times ET)

Dodgers (Harang, 9-9) at Nationals (Zimmermann, 10-8), 4:05 p.m. (Game 1) Preview >

Dodgers (Beckett, 6-13) at Nationals (Lannan, 3-0), Game 2 Preview >

Brewers (Estrada, 3-6) at Pirates (McPherson, 0-0), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Astros (Harrell, 10-9) at Cardinals (Lynn, 15-7), 8:15 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

This is how the teams would match up: Postseason Bracket »

Postseason 101

Magic numbers
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.

Tiebreaker scenarios
A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then the division record will be the next tiebreaker.

If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then the division record will be the next tiebreaker.

Tiebreaker rules »

2012 postseason schedule
Wild Card playoff games: Oct. 5
Division Series: Oct. 6-12
AL Championship Series: Oct. 13-21
NL Championship Series: Oct. 14-22
World Series: Oct. 24-Nov. 1