What many argued were the biggest concerns for the Nationals heading into the NL Division Series have yet to really hurt them.
Their bullpen, even after allowing two runs in Game 4, has been exceptional.
Their offense has not been plagued by the issues that killed them in 2014. And their defense, though not perfect, has largely been good.
No, in fact the biggest weakness for the Nationals so far in the NLDS has been the very thing they are built to do best, the foundation of their roster that is supposed to carry them this time of year. So far, starting pitching has been a major problem.
Even without Stephen Strasburg, they should theoretically be in good shape. They have All-Star Max Scherzer, who has a Cy Young on his record and should contend for the award this year again. Tanner Roark could have easily been an All-Star and posted the sixth-best ERA in baseball this season.
Gio Gonzalez, though mercurial, had been good against the Dodgers this year and boasts playoff experience. And Joe Ross is a promising young talent who also fared well against L.A. this season.
The Nationals had the second-best rotation ERA (3.60) in baseball in 2016. But through four NLDS games, their starters have allowed 13 runs - including five homers - in 17 1/3 innings. Only Scherzer has made it through the fifth inning and Ross on Tuesday couldn't get out of the third.
The Nats have serious rotation issues at the moment and it could cost them their season if they persist. If it weren't for their stingy bullpen and potent offense, their season could very well have been over by now.
"It's put a lot of pressure on my 'pen and on us to make the decisions," manager Dusty Baker said.
The Dodgers' rotation hasn't exactly been great, either. Their starters have allowed 16 runs in 19 innings so far. The Nats are batting .321 as a team off of them.
It has been an ugly series for starters on both sides, even Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who has now allowed eight earned runs through 11 2/3 innings in two starts.
But the Nationals have not been able to fully take advantage. Now they have one last chance to change that with Scherzer on the mound for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday in Washington. If there is anyone who can reverse that trend, it's him.
*Quote transcript from ASAPsports.com*
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