Just so you can see the difference
Starters NLCS : 7.18 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 3.2 B/9, 10.4 K/9
Relievers NLCS : 1.88 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 11.8 WHIP
(without the Jansen blow-up the reliever stats become : 0.82 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 12.0 K/9)
Kershaw was ok, throwing in a space that allowed him to dominate the bottom of the Nats line-up but struggle to put away the top. He wasn't being hit particularly hard so he was able to escape more often than not. Ross, on the other hand, was not ok. He was somewhat predictably unable to throw his fastball past this lefty heavy line-up. This left him trying to work the strike zone with only off-speed pitches, which really isn't what they are meant for. It didn't work nearly enough to be effective and in a crucial moment he was left in at least one batter too long.
Why did Dusty do it? Same reason you start Ross in the first place. You are looking for innings, looking to try to save the pen. Dusty was trying to squeeze one more out from Ross, so he wouldn't waste a pitcher. In the end it didn't work, Ross would walk Reddick, then plunk Pederson; and it didn't matter, as the Nats would go 1-2-3 in the next inning saving the pitcher spot from coming up.**
However, Game 4 was a bit different. All these games are being won or lost by the pens but that hadn't meant what it usually does. Games 1 through 3 were won or lost in the 5th-9th as one or the other bullpen manages to hold on to the lead their team got off the opposing starter. Game 4 was a more typical game, won or lost in the 7th-9th as one or the other bullpen lets in the deciding run. It was almost the Dodgers - as they failed to get the single out needed to hold onto Kershaw's lead. But then it was the Nats, with Blake Treinen giving up the game after seemingly being in control.
After 4 games, here's how things stand for the Nats.
- The bullpen arms have been very effective. The two runs scored yesterday were the first two scored off them all series and it's not like they haven't been out there. This also includes Lopez who is more of a long-man than a reliever likely to be used in any crucial late game situation.
- The starters have not. No reason to go into it because all that matters now is Max in Game 5.
- The top of the lineup is getting it done - Turner is hitting .353, Werth .467, Murphy .462. Bryce is getting on at a .421 clip.
- The bottom of the line-up is not Rendon is hitting .188, Espy .091, C .188 (yes with one big homer), as well as the bench, 1-9 PH (with a SF) Drew 0-2 filling in mid-game, Severino 0-2 filling in mid-game.
*line wise it won't even be that and thus it'll be another notch on the "Kershaw can't pitch in the playoffs" belt, but we all saw it. It was fine.
**this would actually happen twice in the game saving the Nats a couple arms