Here’s the number: 0.1.
That, according to Baseball-Reference, is the percentage chance of the Nationals making the postseason. They are 23-32. Five games remain. The math is direct.
However, underneath their almost-nil postseason chance is a view of how cluttered the postseason situation is following expansion. Take the current scenarios for the Nationals to be eliminated when they enter play Wednesday:
The Nationals are eliminated if they lose, and one of Milwaukee, San Francisco or St. Louis wins. That’s step one.
Philadelphia holds the tiebreaker over Washington, so a Nationals loss against the Phillies would eliminate them against Philadelphia (because Washington can’t finish with a better record). However, the Nationals would still need at least one other team to get to 28 wins since none of the other three (Milwaukee, San Francisco and St. Louis) have clinched the intradivision tiebreaker yet.
That means at least eight teams could reach 28 wins and, if they lose, the Nationals could not win more than 27.
Got all that?
The Nationals’ current four-game winning streak is their longest of the season. It’s both amusing for its timing and damning because of its length. They went 19-31 last year, then went 74-38. This year, they are 4-1 since hitting the troublesome 19-31 mark.
Even if they win out, putting together a nine-game winning streak to close the season, the Nationals have almost no chance to participate in the watered-down playoffs. What will happen is six teams at or near the .500 mark will make it. The defending World Series champions will head home.