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10/05/08 1:49 AM ET

NLDS success must be tempered a bit

History says LCS prosperity doesn't always follow if you sweep

Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have swept their way into the National League Championship Series on Saturday, they confront a far bigger problem than that posed by the Chicago Cubs.

Namely: Avoiding the letdown that has conspired against every NL club which has taken the Division Series in straight sets.

With the exception of three instances when both teams entered the NLCS off sweeps, each of the six prior clubs to have swept the NLDS has had it lead to NLCS defeat.

Overall, since the introduction of Wild Card berths led to the 1995 advent of the Division Series, a flawless start to the postseason has guaranteed little in the course of the playoffs.

Of the previous 21 teams to sweep Division Series, only nine went on to LCS triumphs, six of eight in the AL but only three of 13 in the NL.

Sweep success?
YearSweeperSweptLCS FateLCS Opponent
2007RockiesPhilliesBeatD-backs, 4-0
2007D-backsCubsLost toRockies, 0-4
2007Red SoxAngelsBeatIndians, 4-3
2006MetsDodgersLost toCardinals, 4-3
2006AthleticsTwinsLost toTigers, 0-4
2005CardinalsPadresLost toAstros, 2-4
2005White SoxRed SoxBeatAngels, 4-1
2004Red SoxAngelsBeatYankees, 4-3
2002CardinalsD-backsLost toGiants, 1-4
2001BravesAstrosLost toD-backs, 1-4
2000CardinalsBravesLost toMets, 1-4
2000MarinersWhite SoxLost toYankees, 2-4
1999YankeesRangersBeatRed Sox, 4-1
1998BravesCubsLost toPadres, 2-4
1998YankeesRangersBeatIndians, 4-2
1997BravesAstrosLost toMarlins, 2-4
1997MarlinsGiantsBeatBraves, 4-2
1996CardinalsPadresLost toBraves, 3-4
1996BravesDodgersBeatCardinals, 4-3
1995RedsDodgersLost toBraves, 0-4
1995IndiansRed SoxBeatMariners, 4-2

And, remarkably, each of the NL survivals came in "can't miss" situations, with both LCS teams qualifying with sweeps: 1996, when the Braves beat the Cardinals; 1997, the Marlins over the Braves; and last year, the Rockies over the D-backs.

So, with the set between the Phillies and the Brewers already heading to a Game 4 on Sunday, the Dodgers will be trying to become the first NL team to follow up a Division Series sweep with an NLCS triumph on an uneven playground.

Incidentally, while you're not supposed to look past the next series, staying the LCS course off a Division Series sweep has definitely made the ultimate destination more accessible.

Of the nine teams which survived the LCS, six wound up wearing World Series rings: the 1997 Marlins, 1998-99 Yankees, 2004 and '07 Red Sox and 2005 White Sox.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.