MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats celebrate, but focus is on bigger picture

Nats celebrate, but focus is on bigger picture

ATLANTA -- On Tuesday, the Nationals wrapped up their second National League East title in three years, but they feel they are far from done celebrating.

"We have three more [rounds]. That's the biggest thing," left fielder Bryce Harper said. "We are trying to reach that next level. This is just the start. We want to do this for a long time. We have a great team, we have a great organization, and unbelievable manager [Matt Williams]. One through nine, we are a great team, our bullpen is unbelievable."

The Nationals plan to rest their regulars Wednesday night against the Braves and then play for the best record in the NL. If the Nats finish with the league's best mark, they can have home-field advantage until they get to the World Series.

"It's important," Williams said about home-field advantage."We'll give everybody a breather. We have some guys that are limping around a little bit, so we'll try to give them some breaks here and there. But we still want to compete. We want to stay as sharp as possible. That's a challenge. So we'll work it out starting tomorrow. We'll see where we can go."

After a week of being in the instructional league, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is expected to be back with the team before the postseason starts. Zimmerman has missed the last two months because of a Grade 3 hamstring strain. But the question is, will Zimmerman play every day or just come off the bench? Williams wouldn't say. The only thing that Williams would say was that Zimmerman will play three positions -- left field, third base and first base.

Then Williams has to decide who is on the playoff roster. In a short series, it would appear that Williams would use four starters. That might mean right-hander Tanner Roark could go in the bullpen. He is the only one of the current rotation members who has experience out of the 'pen.

Williams has yet to name his closer, but in the last two weeks, Drew Storen has been pitching the ninth inning. Rafael Soriano was the closer for most of the season, but he hasn't done anything to win back the job.

Asked how tough it would be to put together a playoff roster, Williams said, "I don't know ... I'll have to address that with [general manager Mike Rizzo] and the staff."

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.