The Washington Nationals are on a roll, having won 10 of their last 11 games in the regular season and 10 of their 12 games in the postseason. Catching lightning in a bottle is often the way an “underdog” team wins it all in Major League Baseball.
Despite the Nats’ obvious edges with their payroll (which doesn’t make them an underdog at all, historically), this was not really what experts—us included—foresaw for the postseason when it started. Washington has a 2-0 lead in the World Series heading back home for Games 3, 4, and 5, and that is commonly insurmountable.
- Series record, all best-of-7 sports, all rounds: 121-27 (.818)
- Series record, all best-of-7 sports, Finals round: 22-5 (.815)
- Series record, MLB only, all rounds: 23-3 (.885)
- Series record, MLB only, Finals round: 10-3 (.769)
So, in situations where one team went up 2-0 on the road in all sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) through all rounds of the postseason, that team won 121 series out of 148 all time.
In the championship round in all three sports, teams in Washington’s position have won 22 of 27 times. In baseball alone, in all rounds, the team up 2-0 after starting on the road has won 23 of 26 series, overall, but in the World Series, the teams in the Nats’ spot have gone just 10-3 in the end.
Houston has the rotation and the ability to mount a comeback, for sure. Think 1996 when the defending champions, the Atlanta Braves, took the first two games in New York against the Yankees by a combined 16-1 score and then were on the verge of taking a 3-1 lead in the Series in Game 4 at home before a faulty bullpen blew the lead and the game—and eventually the Series.
Those Braves lost four straight to the Yankees, and a dynasty was born, MLB’s last “great” dynasty, really, when New York won four Series in a five-year span, missing out only in 1997.
But we digress. The Nats also have pitching and the ability to stave off the Astros. It will be an interesting weekend in MLB action, for sure, but Houston does have an uphill climb ahead, historically speaking—albeit not impossible.
First, the Astros need to win Game 3 on the road in D.C., and then we’ll know more.