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NLCS Takeaways: World Series-bound Nationals rewrite franchise history

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This time last week, the Washington Nationals had never won a playoff series. They’d reached the playoffs often enough during their 15 years in D.C., only to lose in the NLDS four times. Even if you include the Nationals’ baseball ancestors, the Montreal Expos, the only series win in franchise history came back in the 1981 NLDS.

In the last seven days, the Nationals have celebrated two such wins. Less than a week after defeating the 106-win Dodgers, the Nationals have swept the St. Louis Cardinals, officially winning the NL pennant and earning a trip to the World Series.

A seven-run first inning positioned Washington well from the beginning, but they needed some strong bullpen work once the Cardinals rallied. They got it, setting up a week-long layoff before the Fall Classic.

As for who will face the Nationals in the World Series? The Astros are now just two wins away from earning that honour after defeating the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS. Even though he wasn’t completely dominant, Gerrit Cole proved too much for the team he grew up following on the way to a 4-1 Astros win.

With storms approaching New York, the weather’s now a key variable ahead of Game 4. A rainout Wednesday would allow both clubs to avoid (or at least delay) a bullpen day, instead setting up Masahiro Tanaka and Zack Greinke on full rest for Game 4 Thursday. As the Yankees and Astros plan for those different scenarios, let’s look........

© Sportsnet