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National League Championship Series

"NLCS" redirects here. For other uses, see NLCS (disambiguation).

The National League Championship Series (NLCS) is a best-of-seven series played in October in the Major League Baseball postseason that determines the winner of the National League pennant. The winner of the series advances to play the winner of the American League Championship Series in the World Series, Major League Baseball's championship series. The reigning National League Champions are the San Francisco Giants.


Prior to 1969, the National League champion (the "pennant winner") was determined by the best win-loss record at the end of the regular season. There were four ad hoc three-game playoff series due to ties under this formulation (in 1946, 1951, 1959, and 1962). (The American League had to resolve a tie in 1948, but used a single-game playoff for that.)

A structured postseason series began in 1969, when both the National and American Leagues were reorganized into two divisions each, East and West. The two division winners within each league played each other in a best-of-five series to determine who would advance to the World Series. In 1985, the format changed to best-of-seven.

The NLCS and ALCS, since the expansion to best-of-seven, are always played in a 2–3–2 format: games 1, 2, 6, and 7 are played in the stadium of the team that has home field advantage, and Games 3, 4, and 5 are played in the stadium of the team that does not. Home field advantage is given to the team that has the better record, with the exception that the team that made the postseason as the Wild Card team cannot get home field advantage. From 1969 to 1993, home field advantage was alternated between divisions each year regardless of regular season record and from 1995 to 1997 home field advantage was predetermined before the season.

In 1981, a divisional series was held due to a split season caused by a players' strike.

In 1994, the league was restructured into three divisions, with the three division winners and a wild-card team advancing to a best-of-five postseason round, the National League Division Series (NLDS). The winners of that round advance to the best-of-seven NLCS. The NLDS was first played in 1995 due to the cancellation of the 1994 postseason during another players' strike.

Every current National League franchise except the Washington Nationals has appeared in the NLCS at least once, although the Nationals appeared as the Montreal Expos in 1981. The Houston Astros made four NLCS appearances before moving to the American League in 2013.

As of the 2014 season, the Milwaukee Brewers are the only franchise to play in both the NLCS (in 2011) and the ALCS (in 1982). No franchise has yet to win both the National and American League Championship Series.

Frequent matchups

Count Matchup Record Years
5 Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Reds, 4–1 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979, 1990
5 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies Phillies, 3–2 1977, 1978, 1983, 2008, 2009
4 San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals Giants, 3–1 1987, 2002, 2012, 2014
2 Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets Tied, 1–1 1969, 1999
2 Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals Tied, 1–1 1982, 1996
2 Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Braves, 2–0 1991, 1992
2 Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals Tied, 1–1 2004, 2005
2 New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals Tied, 1–1 2000, 2006

Championship Trophy

The Warren C. Giles Trophy, named for the president of the NL from 1951 to 1969, is awarded to the NLCS winner.[1]

Most Valuable Player Award

See: League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award#National League winners

A Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is given to the outstanding player in each series, though voters can consider performances made during the divisional series. The MVP award has been given to a player on the losing team twice, in 1986 to Mike Scott of the Houston Astros and in 1987 to Jeff Leonard of the San Francisco Giants.

Although the National League began its LCS MVP award in 1977, the American League did not begin its LCS MVP award until 1980.[2]

NLCS results (1969–present)

wc Denotes wild-card team (since 1995)
* Denotes MVP did not play for winning team
Year Winner Loser Record Series MVP TV
Series Recap
1969 New York Mets Atlanta Braves 3–0   NBC The first ever NLCS ended in a sweep as the upstart Mets defeated the Braves to win their first ever pennant. The Braves would not appear in the NLCS again until 1982 while the Mets were en route to winning their first World Series.
1970 Cincinnati Reds Pittsburgh Pirates 3–0   NBC For the second straight year the NLCS ended in a sweep as the Reds eliminated the Pirates. This would be the first of four LCS meetings between the teams during the 1970s.
1971 Pittsburgh Pirates San Francisco Giants 3–1   NBC Pittsburgh won their first NLCS to advance to their first World Series since 1960 after defeating the Giants in 4 games.
1972 Cincinnati Reds Pittsburgh Pirates 3–2   NBC The Reds advanced to their 2nd World Series in 3 years by once again defeating the Pirates, this time the series went the full 5 games.
1973 New York Mets Cincinnati Reds 3–2   NBC The underdog Mets won their second NLCS appearance after eliminating the Reds in 5 games. This was only NLCS of the 1970s that did not have either the Phillies or Pirates as the NL East representatives.
1974 Los Angeles Dodgers Pittsburgh Pirates 3–1   NBC In their first ever appearance in the NLCS, Los Angeles won their first pennant since 1966 by defeating Pittsburgh in 4 games.
1975 Cincinnati Reds Pittsburgh Pirates 3–0   NBC In 3rd NLCS meeting in 6 seasons of these two teams, the Reds once again advanced to the World Series after sweeping the Pirates in 3 games.
1976 Cincinnati Reds Philadelphia Phillies 3–0   ABC Cincinnati swept Philadelphia to win their second consecutive pennant. They would also sweep the Yankees in the World Series to become the first and only team since division play started to win it all while being undefeated during their postseason run. This was the Phillies first postseason appearance in 25 years.
1977 Los Angeles Dodgers Philadelphia Phillies 3–1 Dusty Baker, Los Angeles NBC The Dodgers won their 2nd pennant in 4 years by eliminating the Phillies in 4 games.
1978 Los Angeles Dodgers Philadelphia Phillies 3–1 Steve Garvey, Los Angeles ABC 3 times was not the charm for Philadelphia as they were unsuccessful in their third straight NLCS appearance. 3 was successful for the Dodgers though as they were now 3-0 in the NLCS.
1979 Pittsburgh Pirates Cincinnati Reds 3–0 Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh NBC The previous 3 times they played in the NLCS, the Pirates lost to the Reds. However this time Pittsburgh swept Cincinnati in 3 games en route to winning their second pennant and world championship of the 1970s.
1980 Philadelphia Phillies Houston Astros 3–2 Manny Trillo, Philadelphia ABC In what was a thrilling 5 games series the Phillies finally advanced to the World Series in their 4th postseason appearance of the previous 5 seasons. This was also the first time that the Astros played in the postseason. Philadelphia would go on to win their first World Series that year in their 97-year history.
1981 Los Angeles Dodgers Montreal Expos 3–2 Burt Hooton, Los Angeles NBC The road to the LCS was muddled that year as there was a mid season strike that split the season into 2 halves causing an additional round of playoffs, the league division series. In the NL East the Philadelphia Phillies were the first half champions while the Montreal Expos were the second half champion. In the NL West the Los Angeles Dodgers won the first half while Houston won the seoncd half. In the NL Division Series both Montreal and Los Angeles won their respective series in 5 games. The Dodgers would win their third pennant in 6 seasons and win their first World Series in 16 years. The Expos however would make their only postseason appearance during their 35 years playing in Montreal. They would move to Washington D.C. for the 2005 season and return to the postseason in 2012 & 2014. However they have yet to make NLCS appearance since 1981.
1982 St. Louis Cardinals Atlanta Braves 3–0 Darrell Porter, St. Louis ABC The Cardinals made the most of their first NLCS appearance as they swept Atlanta en route to winning their first world championship in 15 years. This was the Braves first postseason appearance since 1969 and their only appearance until 1991.
1983 Philadelphia Phillies Los Angeles Dodgers 3–1 Gary Matthews, Philadelphia NBC The Phillies did something that they weren't able to do in 1977 or 1978, which was to defeat the Dodgers to capture the NL Pennant.
1984 San Diego Padres Chicago Cubs 3–2 Steve Garvey, San Diego ABC Despite being down 0-2 in a best of five series, San Diego is able to rally to defeat Chicago in the last 3 games of the series to advance to the World Series, a franchise first.
1985 St. Louis Cardinals Los Angeles Dodgers 4–2 Ozzie Smith, St. Louis NBC Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark launch game-winning HRs in the 9th inning of back-to-back games, rallying St. Louis from a 0–2 series hole. Starting this year both sets of the LCS were expanded to a best of 7 series instead the best of 5 format that had been used since the start of LCS play.
1986 New York Mets Houston Astros 4–2 Mike Scott, Houston* ABC Even though the Mets entered the playoffs with the best record in baseball and were able to win the NL pennant, the Astros put up a fight. Especially in Game 6 which the Mets won in 16 innings. It was also a rare occasion where the MVP of the series was awarded to a member of the losing team which was Houston pitcher Mike Scott. Scott only gave up 1 run in 2 games against New York.
1987 St. Louis Cardinals San Francisco Giants 4–3 Jeffrey Leonard, San Francisco* NBC In a hard fought series the Cardinals overcame a 3-2 series deficit to defeat the Giants to win their 3rd pennant in 6 years.
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers New York Mets 4–3 Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles ABC The Mets were heavily favored to win their second pennant in 3 years but the Dodgers came through winning the series in 7 games.
1989 San Francisco Giants Chicago Cubs 4–1 Will Clark, San Francisco NBC The Giants won the NLCS for the first time and advanced to their first World Series in 27 years by defeating the Cubs in 5 games.
1990 Cincinnati Reds Pittsburgh Pirates 4–2 Rob Dibble and Randy Myers, Cincinnati CBS This was the first NLCS appearance for both teams since 1979 where Pittsburgh won. This time the Reds were able to exact revenge by defeating the Pirates in 6 games.
1991 Atlanta Braves Pittsburgh Pirates 4–3 Steve Avery, Atlanta CBS Series MVP Steve Avery masters the Pirates twice, winning similar 1–0 shutouts in both game 2 and game 6 to complete a worst-to-first season for the Braves.
1992 Atlanta Braves Pittsburgh Pirates 4–3 John Smoltz, Atlanta CBS The Braves trailed 2–0 entering the 9th inning of game 7 but rallied to score 3 runs, ending on Francisco Cabrera's bases loaded two-out single to clinch the pennant.
1993 Philadelphia Phillies Atlanta Braves 4–2 Curt Schilling, Philadelphia CBS Despite being outscored 33–23 over 6 games, the Phillies tallied two 10th inning wins in game 2 and game 5 to dethrone the two-time defending NL champion Braves.
1994 Not held due to players' strike.
1995 Atlanta Braves Cincinnati Reds 4–0 Mike Devereaux, Atlanta ABC (Games 1–2)
NBC (Games 3–4)
The Braves steal back to back extra inning wins on the road in games 1 and 2, then surge to victories late in games 3 and 4 to sweep the NL pennant.
1996 Atlanta Braves St. Louis Cardinals 4–3 Javy López, Atlanta Fox Atlanta climbs out of a 3–1 series hole, dominating the Cardinals in games 5, 6 and 7 by a total score of 32–1 including a 15–0 win in game 7.
1997 Florida Marlins wc Atlanta Braves 4–2 Liván Hernández, Florida NBC The heavily favored Braves outscore the Marlins but lose the series in 6 games, failing to solve series MVP Livan Hernandez.
1998 San Diego Padres Atlanta Braves 4–2 Sterling Hitchcock, San Diego Fox The upstart Padres stun the heavily favored Braves, shutting out Atlanta in games 2 and 6 while holding them to only one run in game 3.
1999 Atlanta Braves New York Mets wc 4–2 Eddie Pérez, Atlanta NBC In a wild NLCS Atlanta jumps to a 3–0 series lead but dramatically loses games 4 and 5. In game 6 the Braves stage multiple late comebacks and walk-off in the 11th.
2000 New York Mets wc St. Louis Cardinals 4–1 Mike Hampton, New York Fox The Mets bats handle St. Louis pitching, tallying 29 runs in their four victories. The Mets advance to face their crosstown rivals the Yankees in the "Subway Series".
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks Atlanta Braves 4–1 Craig Counsell, Arizona Fox Reigning Cy Young winner Randy Johnson teams with Curt Schilling to power the Diamondbacks past the Braves and into their first ever World Series appearance.
2002 San Francisco Giants wc St. Louis Cardinals 4–1 Benito Santiago, San Francisco Fox The wild card Giants win back to back 1-run games, including a walk-off single by Kenny Lofton in deciding game 5, to clinch the pennant.
2003 Florida Marlins wc Chicago Cubs 4–3 Iván Rodríguez, Florida Fox The Cubs cannot put away the Marlins. Chicago blows a 3–1 series lead including a 3–0 lead in the 8th inning of game 6 and a 5–3 lead in the 5th inning of game 7.
2004 St. Louis Cardinals Houston Astros wc 4–3 Albert Pujols, St. Louis Fox In the only NLCS where the home team won every game, the Cardinals' Jim Edmonds slugs a 12th inning walk-off home run in game 6 and St. Louis rallies to win game 7.
2005 Houston Astros wc St. Louis Cardinals 4–2 Roy Oswalt, Houston Fox Series MVP Roy Oswalt allows only two total runs in two starts as the Astros avenge their 2004 NLCS defeat to St. Louis and reach their first World Series.
2006 St. Louis Cardinals New York Mets 4–3 Jeff Suppan, St. Louis Fox Yadier Molina's 2-run home run in the 9th inning of game 7 powers the Cardinals into the Fall Classic in a tightly contested, back and forth series.
2007 Colorado Rockies wc Arizona Diamondbacks 4–0 Matt Holliday, Colorado TBS The Rockies win 7 consecutive postseason games, capping off a run of 21 wins in 22 games, sweeping their way to their first ever World Series appearance.
2008 Philadelphia Phillies Los Angeles Dodgers 4–1 Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Fox Series MVP Cole Hamels pitches the Phillies to wins in game 1 and game 5, and Philadelphia rallies dramatically to win game 4 on the road.
2009 Philadelphia Phillies Los Angeles Dodgers 4–1 Ryan Howard, Philadelphia TBS The Phillies wrap up back-to-back NLCS victories over the Dodgers, keyed by a 9th inning come-from-behind win in game 4.
2010 San Francisco Giants Philadelphia Phillies 4–2 Cody Ross, San Francisco Fox The Giants' Juan Uribe delivers a walk-off sacrifice fly in game 4 and a game-winning home run in the eighth inning of game 6.
2011 St. Louis Cardinals wc Milwaukee Brewers 4–2 David Freese, St. Louis TBS The Cardinals lineup outslugs the Brewers, hitting eight home runs and scoring 43 total runs in a back and forth, high-scoring series.
2012 San Francisco Giants St. Louis Cardinals wc 4–3 Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Fox San Francisco rallies from a 3–1 series deficit, outscoring the Cardinals in games 5, 6 and 7 by a combined score of 20–1.
2013 St. Louis Cardinals Los Angeles Dodgers 4–2 Michael Wacha, St. Louis TBS Rookie pitcher Michael Wacha shuts out Dodgers twice as Cardinals win low-scoring series in 6 games.
2014 San Francisco Giantswc St. Louis Cardinals 4–1 Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Fox
Fox Sports 1
Travis Ishikawa's walk-off home run in game 5 clinches the Giants' third pennant in five years.

NLCS Appearances

Team Wins Losses Win % Most recent
Most recent
13 St. Louis Cardinals 7 6 .538 2013 2014
11 Atlanta Braves 5 6 .455 1999 2001
10 Los Angeles Dodgers 5 5 .500 1988 2013
9 Philadelphia Phillies 5 4 .556 2009 2010
9 Pittsburgh Pirates 2 7 .222 1979 1992
8 Cincinnati Reds 5 3 .625 1990 1995
7 San Francisco Giants 5 2 .714 2014 2014
7 New York Mets 4 3 .571 2000 2006
4 Houston Astros 1 3 .250 2005 2005
3 Chicago Cubs 0 3 .000 - 2003
2 Miami Marlins 2 0 1.000 2003 2003
2 San Diego Padres 2 0 1.000 1998 1998
2 Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1 .500 2001 2007
1 Colorado Rockies 1 0 1.000 2007 2007
1 Milwaukee Brewers 0 1 .000 - 2011
1 Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos 0 1 .000 - 1981

See also


  1. ^ "'Fantastic feeling' for Bill Giles,". Philadelphia Inquirer. Oct 16, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  2. ^ League Championship Series Most Valuable Players ( ). MLB Advanced Media, L.P. Retrieved 2009-08-31.