Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM
Hot & Not Report - World Series
Week of October 21st
Last week's focus on the Big 10 had some bad results overall, as regression to the mean seemed to be the story.
'Overs' in Big 10 games went 4-2 O/U after coming into the week on a 2-11 O/U run, while home teams ended up going 1-5 ATS against the closing number. You could have got a win/push with Maryland had you got +6 or better with them in their six-point loss to Indiana, but overall the road teams came to play – with one mighty big exception.
The biggest upset of the week in college football happened in the Big 10 with Illinois beating Wisconsin outright as a home underdog of 30+ points. Wisconsin clearly got caught looking ahead to their big showdown with Ohio State this week – and as I've said before, when teams get caught looking ahead, you probably want to back them when that game arrives, so keep that in mind for Saturday – but that win by Lovie Smith's Illini crew sent shock waves through the nation. If there were bad results overall, I'm glad the biggest result of the weekend managed to follow suit in both categories – home team and 'under'.
For this week's piece, I'm taking a break from the gridiron and moving over to the ball diamond as the 2019 World Series gets going on Tuesday. It's a matchup between the Nationals and Astros that could be argued as one with the best pitching resumes overall we've seen in a World Series, and there is no doubt fans on both sides are excited to get things going.
However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news for those of you in the nation's capital, but even with the likes of Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin on your side, history is definitely not. And just like the Baby Shark phenomenon that went well past its 15 minutes of fame in the real world, this Nats team that rallies behind that song likely doesn't have much time left of winning baseball games. That's because...
Teams that needed more games to get through the LCS round (Houston) are 6-2 SU since 2008 in winning the World Series
Now, I get that one doesn't really have anything to do with the other, and last year's Boston Red Sox actually were one of the two teams to buck this trend, but the old 'rest' vs 'rust' question always comes into play in this type of scenario, and generally speaking 'rust' usually wins out.
It was 10 years between World Series wins for the team with more rest, as the 2018 Red Sox did it, along with the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies. There were a few “pushes” in there (both teams played equal games in LCS), but at the time of year where you want to keep all the momentum you've got, extended time away from the ballpark seems to hurt more than help.
Had it been any other team other than Houston with a murderer's row of starters in Cole, Greinke, and Verlander, I think you'd have to give the Nationals more of a shot with who they can throw out there, but I don't think that's the case with Houston sharing the diamond with them.
And while you can break down all the advanced metrics specifically applying to the Nats and try to talk/convince yourself of Washington's chances in this series, the fact that they swept the NLCS is even more damning from a historical perspective. That's because....
Since the LCS went to a Best-of-7 format in 1985, MLB teams to sweep the LCS are 1-7 SU in winning the World Series; and 10-30 SU in World Series games individually, only winning more than one game once in those seven defeats
Only the 1995 Atlanta Braves were able to bring home a World Series title after sweeping the LCS prior, and those four wins are included in that 10-30 SU record for LCS sweepers. Take that out of the equation and teams that fit the Nationals role are an abysmal 6-30 SU in World Series games, have been swept three times (1990 Oakland, 2007 Colorado, 2012 Detroit) and lost 4-1 in the series three other times (1988 Oakland, 2006 Detroit, 2015 NY Mets).
That is just awful and it's probably too steep of a historical mountain to climb for the Nationals this year. Only the 2014 Kansas City Royals were able to win more than one game in the World Series after sweeping the ALCS, as they took the Giants to seven games that year.
But the bad news doesn't stop there for Nationals fans, as not only is that brutal history working against them here, but starters Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer were both apart of that 2012 Detroit Tigers team. That year we saw the Tigers sweep away the Yankees in the LCS, only to get swept away by the Giants days later. Could it be deja vu all over again for those two guys? That will have to get played out, but should Washington find themselves down 2-0 in the series when they head home for Game 3, I'm sure Sanchez and Scherzer may have a few flashbacks from 2012 pop up in their sleep.
Obviously, sweeping away a foe is never a bad thing because nobody ever wants to play with fire in terms of needing six or seven games to advance, but history suggests that World Series teams coming off a sweep have peaked to early. When you throw that on top of Houston being a prohibitive favorite already in this series, the deck is rather stacked against Washington this week, in what could very likely be a short series yet again.