Nats' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

Nats' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

Nats' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012
WASHINGTON -- After clinching a playoff spot on Thursday, the Nationals had a subdued celebration in the locker room. They realized it could be the first of many celebrations to come. They still need to win the National League East. The magic number is eight.

First baseman Adam LaRoche said he realizes Thursday was a big day for the franchise. He realizes the Nationals will become the first D.C.-based baseball team to play in the postseason since the Senators played in the World Series in 1933.

Wells Fargo

"It's a big day for this organization and the city," LaRoche said. "To see the excitement out there tonight, it's pretty cool. I don't want to downplay this at all, but this is kind of our [Wild Card playoff game]. It's really our [worst-case scenario] for us. Again, it was a huge night. I understand this city has been waiting for this -- to be part of it and doing it at home."

Friday's key game to watch (all times ET)

Braves (Hanson, 12-8) at Phillies (Kendrick, 9-11), 7:05 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

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.