Nationals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 25, 2012

Nationals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 25, 2012

Nationals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 25, 2012
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals improved their record to 93-60 and dropped their magic number to five to win the National League East title. The Braves were idle on Monday, which means the Nationals are now five games ahead of Atlanta in the division.

The Nationals go on the road to play the Phillies starting Tuesday night. The Nationals have a chance to win the NL East title in Philly, which the Nats would welcome, for the Phillies have clinched three division titles against Washington.

"We have a big road trip coming up, and we have some games to win," said Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, who played on those Phillies teams. "We know the direction we are going. We know what is at stake here. We showed it all year. There is no panic. There is nothing but business going on here."

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

Nationals (Detwiler, 10-6) at Phillies (Hamels, 15-6), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Marlins (Eovaldi, 4-12) at Braves (Medlen, 9-1), 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.