Pete Kozma was the only thing standing in between the Washington Nationals and their first World Series. Yes, the same man who put an end to those hopes only 12 months prior. Drew Storen was on the mound to protect a four run lead in the ninth inning and in a fitting twist of fate, he had to face the person who ended their season the year before with two outs.
You know how it ended. Storen got Kozma to pop out and the celebration was on. The Washington Nationals would finally be the last National League team – and 29th active Major League franchise – to reach the World Series. Storen got his redemption and closed out the game, and even though it wasn’t a save situation, you couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face. Storen was one of the best relievers in baseball as Rafael Soriano‘s set up man and you could tell that Davey Johnson was structuring the end of the game to get Storen to get his redemption on the team that ended their 2012 season.
The Washington Nationals had tremendous pitching from their five starters that had them in almost every game this season. Stephen Strasburg is definitely in the conversation for National League Cy Young, as he won 20 games, something that only two pitchers had done previously in franchise history. Not only that, but Strasburg actually got stronger as the year went on, alleviating any concerns for how he would pitch in the post season. His 4-0 record through the NLDS and NLCS showed that even more.
The Nationals biggest surprise was Ross Detwiler. He used a good spring and World Baseball Classic to really take the next step forward. Remember the last time we saw Detwiler in a game that meant something was his amazing Game 4 of the NLDS against St. Louis. That definitely carried over into this season.
For the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman had an MVP-type season coming off of his injury last season. The only thing standing between him and an obvious MVP selection is his teammate Bryce Harper. Harper hit 30 home runs and put up a .310 average and led the team in runs batted in.
The Nationals won their second straight National League East division with the Atlanta Braves winning the Wild Card with the St. Louis Cardinals getting the second spot. The Cardinals defeated the Braves and went on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS while the Nationals beat the Central Division champions from Cincinnati.
In the World Series, it looks like the Nationals will be facing off against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays defeated the Los Angeles Angels in the ALCS and before that beat the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS. They will be going with Josh Johnson in the Opening Game of the World Series against Strasburg. R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez are set for Game Two.
Yes, in case you haven’t realized this is a fictional account of what would happen should the Nationals have everything go right in their 2013 season. Yesterday, we looked at the worst case scenario.