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Phillies' magic number for MLB playoffs: they're in!

The Phillies have clinched their first postseason spot in 11 years.

PHILADELPHIA — Editor's note: The above video is from Sept. 28.

Near the end of every September, the phrase "magic number" becomes common in the vernacular of baseball fans around the country. 

Teams both in the mix and on the periphery of the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason picture carefully examine the standings and calculate just how many wins by their team or losses by competitors it will take to clinch a playoff berth.

What is a 'magic number?'

MLB's website breaks it down like this: "A team's magic number represents the combination of wins needed by that team and losses by its closest competitor to clinch a given goal. Every time a team wins, its magic number decreases by one. Similarly, every time that team's closest competitor for the division (or Wild Card) loses, the magic number also decreases by one."

For those who want to keep track at home, the formula for calculating the magic number looks like this:

Games remaining + 1 - (Losses by second place team - losses by first place team)

What is the Phillies' magic number?

The Phillies have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2011.

What are the Phillies' most likely playoff scenarios?

The new MLB playoff bracket sets the final wild-card team (No. 6 seed) against the division winner with the worst record of the NL's three divisions (No. 3 seed) in a three-game series. The other two wild-card teams (Nos. 4 and 5 seeds) play a three-game series at the home of the higher seed, and the two best teams in the NL get a bye through the first round.

If the season ended Monday, the Phillies would hold the final NL wild-card spot and face off against the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game series.

Based on the league's new format, all three of those games would be held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

However, the Phillies still have a chance to move up in the wild card standings over the final week of the regular season.

The Padres are one game ahead of the Phillies for the second wild-card spot, and Philadelphia could surpass them in the standings if they put together enough wins and losses by San Diego. 

Philadelphia owns a tiebreaker over both the Padres, so the team must finish one game in front of the Phillies to clinch their position.

Playoffstatus.com, an unofficial website tracking the postseason race, gives the Phillies a 15% chance of overtaking the Padres for the No. 5 seed.

Who does each team competing with the Phillies play over the final week of the season?

San Diego Padres (current No. 5 seed): three games vs. San Francisco Giants

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