Whether this is the best iteration of the Nationals is an interesting debate, but veteran outfielder Jayson Werth, for one, believes there is something different about this club.
They may have won less games during the regular season than both the 2012 (98 wins) and 2014 (96) clubs. They may have lost All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos for the season. All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg is out for the NL Division Series with a right flexor strain. Bryce Harper is on the field, but not playing like we all know he can.
There are reasons to believe the Nats aren't quite as good as they once were on paper. But Werth would argue they are well-suited for the playoffs this time around.
"We've been fortunate here to be in the hunt coming down the stretch, almost every season that I've been in Washington, going to the playoffs. It's the third time I've been in the playoffs," he said after Monday's win (Via ASAPsports.com).
"I'm hoping this is our year. We're battle-tested, we're playoff-tested and we've got a good group of guys. We've been playing together a long time now. So, I feel like this is our opportunity."
Werth, 37, knows that he himself only has so much time left in the majors. The 2015 season, when the Nationals fell short of the playoffs and won just 83 games, was tough on him. He wants to win another World Series. He wants to win one in Washington.
"I think after last year, with the injuries, and the way it ended and, you know, I felt like it was just like an opportunity lost," he said.
"With getting [manager] Dusty [Baker] this year and the moves at the deadline… you don't always get opportunities. I feel like it got taken away last year, and obviously I can't play this game forever. So I feel like this is -- I feel like this is our chance and I also feel like maybe this is my last chance to do it."
Baker has made a difference, as Werth noted. So has health. But the team itself, Werth believes is designed to make a run at the World Series.
"I feel like we can slug with anybody. We have the type of lineup that has balance," he explained. "We have the pitching that can pitch and we have the bullpen that can shut people down like they have done the last couple games."
The bullpen has indeed stood out through three playoff games. They have allowed zero runs collectively with 14 strikeouts through 12 1/3 total innings.
Both 2012 and 2014 featured infamous bullpen meltdowns that cost them in the playoffs. So far, that has not been the case in 2016.
"I think it gives us confidence. We're always in a game," Werth said. "We're never out of it. Even when we're behind, we can tack on runs when we're ahead or we can get some runs when we're behind. I feel like the bullpen is going to hold up. And might not have been the case or the feeling in years past."
The Nationals have a chance on Tuesday night to do something they have never accomplished before: advance in the MLB playoffs. With a 2-1 series lead, they have two opportunities to get there.
*Transcripts via ASAPsports.com*
SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES