In October of 2012, the Washington Nationals melted down in the Division Series, blowing a ninth inning lead in the fifth game. Drew Storen pitched in four of the five games and could not hold onto the 7-5 Game 5 lead and the Nationals lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7.
If the Nationals find themselves in a similar situation in October of 2013, they will be handing the ball to former New York Yankees closer Rafael Soriano. The Nationals signed the Scott Boras client to a relatively low risk two year, $28 million contract, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter.)
The deal has an option for a third season if Soriano finishes 120 games over the 2013 and 2014 season.
Soriano had little interest in the open market this offseason. According to Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times, Boras tried to get the Detroit Tigers to bring him aboard and in theory he seemed like a natural fit for the defending American League Champions.
Soriano opted out of a $14 million agreement with the New York Yankees for a chance to close games, something he probably would do with the return of Mariano Rivera. After Jose Valverde's postseason meltdown, the Tigers had a spot for him in the rotation. But perhaps the cost of a draft pick soured his chances to come to the Motor City.
Now he will land in Washington and pitch alongside Storen, Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus.
Relievers can be hard to predict and Soriano is no exception.
He was very effective in 2009 with the Atlanta Braves and an All Star and Cy Young contender in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays. But in 2011, his first year with the New York Yankees, he was riddled with injuries and inconsistencies, before bouncing back for a terrific year while replacing the injured Rivera in the Bronx.
The Nationals are banking on 2009, 2010 and 2012 Soriano and not the 2011 model.
If they do, the city of Washington may actually see a postseason series victory for the first time since 1924.