The Nationals completed a dominant sweep of the Cardinals in the National League Championship to advance to their first World Series in franchise history, where they defeated the Astros in seven games.
Washington’s NLCS sweep was in record territory for a litany of reasons, but overall history isn't necessarily on the side of clubs who sweep then have a long layoff before the Fall Classic. In fact, the Nats became just the ninth team to sweep since the LCS implemented a best-of-seven format in 1985, and just the second among those to go on to win the Commissioner's Trophy.
Here is a breakdown of how those clubs fared:
2019: Nationals (swept Cardinals)
Layoff: 6 days
World Series: Defeated Astros in 7 games
Washington's vaunted pitching staff was utterly dominant against St. Louis, flirting with a no-hitter in each of the series' first two games -- and on the road, to boot. In Game 1, Aníbal Sánchez came four outs shy of a no-no, while the offense backed him with 10 hits. In Game 2, Max Scherzer punched out 11 over seven innings of one-run ball in a trademark gem.
Then, when the series shifted to Washington for Games 3 and 4, the Nats' offense ignited, winning by a combined 15-5, with the bulk of the Cards' runs in those games coming after the contest was well out of reach. Washington scored seven during the first inning of Game 4 to secure the pennant. The Nats held the Cards to the lowest batting average (.170), slugging percentage (.179) and OPS (.374) by any club in LCS history.
The six-day layoff before the Fall Classic didn't appear to hinder Washington whatsoever. The Nats went into Houston and handed Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander -- one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball history -- losing decisions in consecutive games for the first time all season.
Washington didn't enjoy as much success at Nationals Park during the Fall Classic, losing Games 3-5 at home, but the club was able to pull off the miraculous by winning each of the four games played at Minute Maid Park. It marked the first time in the 115-year history of the World Series where the road team won each of the seven games.
2015: Mets (swept Cubs)
Layoff: 6 days
World Series: Lost to Royals in 5 games
In many ways, the Nats mirrored the ‘15 Mets en route to the NL pennant. New York hovered around .500 for much of the regular season before propelling its way to the NL East title over the final two months. Washington was 19-31 an in fourth place on May 23 but has gone an MLB-best 82-40 since.
Like the ‘19 Nats, the ‘15 Mets defeated the heavily-favored Dodgers over a five-game thriller in the NLDS then dominated the 97-win Cubs in four games in the NLCS. That series was headlined by second baseman Daniel Murphy, who homered four times and set a postseason record by homering in six straight games (including the NLDS), while posting a 1.850 OPS in 17 at-bats en route to winning the NLCS MVP Award.
Murphy and the Mets couldn’t keep the pace in the Fall Classic, as New York bowed to Kansas City, though a few momentous swings steered in the Royals’ favor -- particularly after they won a pair of games that went to extra innings, including the decisive Game 5 at Citi Field.
2014 Royals (swept Orioles)
Layoff: 5 days
World Series: Lost to Giants in 7 games
Kansas City’s 29-year postseason drought was quenched with one of the most dominant runs to the pennant in recent memory -- though that didn’t exactly hold up in the Fall Classic.
The Royals won a thrilling, extra-innings AL Wild Card Game over the A’s, then swept the Angels in the ALDS (which remains the only postseason action that Mike Trout has seen) and capped it by winning four straight against the O’s, though that ALCS was actually closer than the final line suggested. Kansas City eked out Game 1 by scoring three runs in the 10th inning, stole Game 2 on the road then won Games 3 and 4 each by a score of 2-1.
The Royals played a competitive World Series against the Giants, even taking a 2-1 lead, but ultimately fell victim to Madison Bumgarner’s historically dominant run. The Giants’ lefty gave up just one run over 21 innings across three outings, capped with a five-inning save that took 68 pitches on just two days’ rest.
2012 Tigers (swept Yankees)
Layoff: 5 days
World Series: Lost to Giants in 4 games
The Tigers upset the heavily-favored Yankees behind dominant starting pitching from Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister, who collectively compiled a 0.84 ERA and gave up just 14 hits over 21 1/3 innings. But it was Delmon Young who was named the ALCS MVP Award winner after hitting .353/.421/.765 with a pair of homers and six RBIs over 17 at-bats.
Detroit couldn’t keep it going in the Fall Classic, however, where it fell to the Giants in a sweep. Verlander coughed up a pair of homers and five earned runs total, his most in a postseason start since his rookie year in ‘06, while Fister and Sanchez received zero runs of support in Games 2-3, respectively. Scherzer left with a tie in Game 4, but the Giants rallied with a run in the 10th to claim the title.
2007 Rockies (swept D-backs)
Layoff: 8 days
World Series: Lost to Red Sox in 4 games
Rocktober remains the most memorable stretch in Colorado franchise history, and for good reason. The Rockies sat in fourth place on Sept. 16 and had to win 14 of their final 15 games (including an epic Game 163 against the Padres) just to get into the postseason, and from there, they went undefeated all the way to the Fall Classic, including an NLCS sweep over the division-rival D-backs.
A lengthy layoff might have contributed to a sluggish start to the World Series against the Red Sox, who went seven games in the ALCS against the Indians, had just two days off before the Fall Classic and defeated Colorado, 13-1, in Game 1, setting the tone for an otherwise quiet World Series. Rockies pitchers couldn’t quite match Boston’s dominant starting staff that included Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester.
2006 Tigers (swept A’s)
Layoff: 6 days
World Series: Lost to Cardinals in 5 games
Detroit held Oakland to 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in ALCS Game 1, overcame an uneven start by Verlander in Game 2, blanked the A’s in Game 3, then rode a three-run walk-off homer by Magglio Ordonez in Game 4 to cap the sweep.
But the Tigers’ bid for their first World Series title since their dominant 1984 campaign came to a halt in their matchup against the up-and-coming Cardinals, who won just 83 games that year -- the second-lowest ever for a pennant-winning team -- but peaked in October.
1995 Braves (swept Reds)
Layoff: 6 days
World Series: Defeated Indians in 6 games
The lone Atlanta club to win the World Series during their record run of 14 straight division titles is also the lone club on this list to complete an LCS sweep and go on to win the championship round. The Braves needed extra innings in two of their NLCS wins over the Reds, which wound up being monumental for momentum, as both were on the road and gave Atlanta commanding home-field advantage. In Games 3-4, Greg Maddux and Steve Avery combined to give up just one run over 14 innings.
In the World Series, the Braves took a commanding 2-0 lead before the set shifted to Cleveland, where the Tribe crept its way back behind an 11-inning win in Game 3 and an eight-inning Orel Hershiser gem in Game 5. Atlanta wound up winning it all, though, in Game 6, when David Justice hit a solo homer to back Tom Glavine’s eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win.
1990 Athletics (swept Red Sox)
Layoff: 5 days
World Series: Lost to Reds in 4 games
After winning eight more regular-season games than any other club, and with a dominant sweep over Boston in the ALCS, nothing seemed destined to get in the A’s way of winning their second straight title. Until they faced the Reds.
Cincinnati snapped Dave Stewart’s six-game postseason win streak by chasing him for four runs in a runaway, 7-0 win in Game 1, including a tone-setting homer in the first by Eric Davis. In Game 2, Dennis Eckersley gave up a walk-off single to Billy Bates that suddenly had Oakland eyeing a glaring deficit, which become even more alarming after Cincinnati ran away to an 8-3 win in Game 3. The Reds again got to Stewart in a 2-1 win in Game 4 to complete the sweep and pull off what’s still considered one of the sport’s most monumental upsets.
1988 Athletics (swept Red Sox)
Layoff: 5 days
World Series: Lost to Dodgers in 5 games
Oakland stole two tightly-contested games at Fenway Park to open the ALCS and returned to the Coliseum with a commanding lead. Jose Canseco, fresh off the first 40-40 season in MLB history, went 5-for-16 with three homers, and Eckersley gave up just one hit and zero runs while pitching in all four games en route to earning the ALCS MVP Award.
The A’s, however, succumbed to the Dodgers’ magical run in 1988, which got off to a bang when the beleaguered Kirk Gibson crushed a two-run walk-off homer off Eckersley, who was credited a blown save. Hershiser pitched a pair of complete-game gems in Games 2 and 5, limiting the A’s to just two runs and seven hits combined, while Oakland was able to win just once in Game 3.