Nats must wait for NLDS matchup, schedule

Nats must wait for NLDS matchup, schedule
October 2, 2012, 4:38 pm
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The clubhouse at Nationals Park likely still smells like champagne, and players will likely be trudging in over the next hour or two still exhausted from last night's celebration, eager to take both a physical and emotional break from the grind before gearing up again for the postseason.

There isn't much time to rest, up, though. The National League Division Series awaits this weekend.

Now, if only the Nationals knew who they'll be playing and when.

Though they've wrapped up their first NL East title, there's still plenty left to be decided. The Nationals enter play today tied with the Reds for the NL's best record at 96-64. They own the tiebreaker against Cincinnati based on their 5-2 head-to-head record this season, so they merely need to hold their position over the next two days.

If the Nationals do end up as the No. 1 seed, they would face the winner of Friday night's NL Wild Card playoff in the NLDS, with Games 1 and 2 on the road Sunday and Monday in either Atlanta, St. Louis or Los Angeles. Nationals Park would then host Game 3 and, if necessary, Games 4 and 5 next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

If the Nationals end up as the No. 2 seed, they know they'll travel to San Francisco to face the NL West champion Giants on Saturday and Sunday. They would then return home for Game 3 on Tuesday, with Games 4 and 5 scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday if necessary.

One major complicating factor to all this: The weather. It's been pouring all day, and there's a 60 percent of rain throughout the evening, leaving tonight's game against the Phillies up in the air.

Though the outcome of the game has no bearing on the division race, it likely has bearing on the race with the Reds for the league's best record. And since this year's new format creates a real distinction between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, Major League Baseball is going to want the Nationals to do everything within their power to play this game.

That could mean a long night at the park today, or it could mean a doubleheader tomorrow.

The division may be clinched and the postseason may be coming to Washington next week for the first time in 79 years, but there's still much to be sorted out between now and then.