Looking a few months, and a few hours, ahead

Major League Baseball has officially released its 2012 postseason schedule, and hopefully I can pass along a few of the key dates without being considered a jinx.

Since I plan on taking full credit if the Nationals make the playoffs this season (I come aboard and look how quickly things turn!), I'll certainly be the one to blame if things go south for the Nationals over these next couple months.

The new Wild Card "play-in" games will both be held on Friday, Oct. 5, with the winner in each league moving on to the divisional round. Two Division Series will begin on Oct. 6 - the ones involving two division champions - while the top seed in both leagues will face the Wild Card Game winners starting Oct. 7.

The NLCS will begin Sunday, Oct. 14, with the ALCS starting a day earlier.

Game 1 of the World Series is set for Wednesday, Oct. 24, which means that if the Series goes a full seven games, we'll have November baseball again.

For those who were unaware, the lower seed in the Division Series will be getting the first two home games this season because of scheduling issues. The higher seed will then get the final three games of the series at their home park.

It's also worth noting that starting this season, teams from the same division will be able to play each other in either the Wild Card Game or the Division Series.

Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's talk a bit about Jordan Zimmermann, who tonight will try and bounce back from his worst start of the 2012 season.

Not that his last outing was all that awful. Zimmermann got burned by some poor defensive plays and failed to catch some breaks in allowing five runs (four earned) over five innings against the Marlins on Saturday.

I guess by Zimmermann's standards, that's a stinker. He had allowed just five earned runs over his previous seven outings combined, after all.

In that start against the Marlins, Zimmermann failed to go at least six innings for the first time all season, which is a bit ironic given that his inflamed shoulder, which had given him some minor problems prior to his previous few starts, felt better on Saturday.

Zimmermann had been on anti-inflammatories in the days leading up to his last outing, and said he felt no tightness in his throwing shoulder. If anything, manager Davey Johnson suggested that Zimmermann might have been a little too strong with his shoulder feeling good and six days of rest in between starts.

He'll take the mound tonight looking to complete the Nats' first four-game sweep of the season.

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