I'm sure if I've computed this wrong plenty of folks will jump all over me, but the Nats magic number to clinch third place in the division is five with seven games remaining. Any combination of Nats wins and Mets losses equal to five will allow the Nats to finish in sole possession of third for the first time since the move in 2005.
The Nats currently hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Mets, and the fact that they'll play one game less this season than the Mets, due to the washed out game with the Dodgers, actually helps the Nats in their quest for sole possession of third place. The Nats have played 154 games and should have eight remaining, but due to the cancellation of that game, have just seven left.
The formula for the "Magic Number" is:
(Games Remaining + 1) - Difference in the loss column
The Nats record, after winning four in a row and eight of their last 10 is 75-79. The Mets (losers of eight out of 10) sit at 73-82. Therefore, (7+1) - 3 = 5.
I know it's not the most significant thing out there, the Magic Number for third place. But you might as well have something to play for, right?
Finishing .500 isn't mathematically impossible either, but the Nats will have to go 6-1 in the rest of their games to accomplish that lofty feat. Should they do so, they will have put together an 18-9 record for the month of September, besting their June record of 17-10 for their best month in franchise history since the move.
By the way, the Nats have already clinched at least an even record against the Phillies this season. In addition, they went 4-2 against St. Louis, 3-3 against Milwaukee and 7-8 against Atlanta with three games left at home with the Braves. So it's possible that the Nats will finish with a winning or even record against three of the four teams in the N.L. playoffs.