The Washington Nationals went from trailing by two runs in the eighth inning of the win-or-go-home NL Wild Card Game, to needing just four games — the minimum — to win the NLCS and advance to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

The Nats completed a four-game NLCS sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 7-4 victory on Tuesday night. The game felt over in the first inning, when the Nats got all seven of their runs — with some help from the Cardinals’ defense — and knocked St. Louis starter Dakota Hudson out after just 15 pitches.

The Cardinals actually turned it into a game by scoring four by the fifth inning against Patrick Corbin and getting 7 2/3 scoreless innings from their bullpen. St. Louis even had the go-ahead run at the plate in the eighth inning, but Matt Carpenter grounded out to second with the bases loaded.

Now, the Nats get plenty of time to rest with the Astros-Yankees series (Houston leads 2-1) guaranteed to go at least two more games, and get the opportunity to arrange their starting rotation however they’d like. Then again, when you have three ace-level arms in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin (and even No. 4 starter Aníbal Sánchez only allowed one hit in Game 1 of the NLCS), the rotation will look good regardless of how it’s arranged in a short series.

With those starting pitchers, to go with plenty of offensive talent (led by Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, Trea Turner, and Howie Kendrick), the Nats will be a very difficult team for the Astros or Yankees to beat in the World Series.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.