The following story is my exaggerated version of what I truly believe the 2022 World Series result will be. The story highlights the upside of some dynasty league prospects as well as young MLB talent.
The San Diego Padres, up 3-0 in the NLCS to the heavily favored reigning NL champion Atlanta Braves, are down to their last position player off the bench. The score is 1-1 in the bottom of the 13th inning at Petco Park. Craig Kimbrel is on in his second inning of relief and has been touched up twice already in the series. In his fourth and final year of a $70 million contract, he’s no longer the dominant closer he once was. Pinch hitting for Jose Castillo, who just extended his hitless inning streak to eight innings, is Hunter Renfroe. Renfroe is hitless in three at-bats this season vs. Kimbrel, however. Renfroe sis earning $6.5 million dollars in his final year of arbitration this year and is surely moving on after this season. He hit .240 with 15 homers in only 220 at-bats. No one on, no one out. Bottom half of the 13th, the first pitch to Renfroe…belted deep left field. That ball is off the facing of the third deck in deep left field, bouncing back onto the field and nearly hitting reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuna who did not even turn around to watch it. The Padres fans erupt as they will now await the winner of the Astros and Blue Jays and will be in the World Series for the first time in 30 years.
World Series Game 1
Forrest Whitley vs. MaCkenzie Gore
Houston Astros Lineup
- Jose Altuve – 2B
- Kyle Tucker – LF
- Alex Bregman – 3B
- Carlos Correa – SS
- J.D. Martinez - DH
- Seth Beer – 1B
- Yordan Alvarez - RF
- Jorge Alfaro – C
- Luis Santana – CF
San Diego Padres Lineup
- Francisco Mejia - C
- Manny Machado – 3B
- Fernando Tatis – SS
- Franmil Reyes – DH
- Wil Myers – RF
- George Springer - LF
- Eric Hosmer – 1B
- Luis Urias – 2B
- Manny Margot - CF
Gore was good but gave up two runs over seven innings while fanning eight batters. Jose Castillo extended his hitless inning streak to 10 innings. Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth inning. Urias comes to the plate down 3-0 in the ninth. He reached base in the third inning after Whitley hit him in the elbow. Since then, Whitley has not allowed a baserunner. He has been essentially perfect through eight innings. Urias goes down on strikes to start the inning. After Margot flies out to Santana in center field, Mejia steps up to the plate with two outs. All of the Astros runs have come on solo homers from A-B-C (Altuve, Bregman, and Correa). Whitley is now ahead 0-2. The heater at 98 mph is blown by Mejia about neck-high. Whitley has thrown the second ever World Series no-hitter, blanking the Padres 3-0.
World Series Game 2
Gerrit Cole vs. Luis Patino
Batting lineups are the same
After going 25-6 in the regular season and registering the most complete games in a season since Roy Halladay, Gerrit Cole was pulled after eight shutout innings and only 103 pitches. Noteworthy, Cole struck out former teammate George Springer all three times and limited the Padres to four baserunners (and one was erased via double play). Luis Patino, a 20-game winner himself, matched him pitch for pitch and headed out in the top of the ninth after surrendering only one run after J.D. Martinez scored Bregman on a sacrifice fly. The top of the ninth ended on Patino’s 15th strikeout of the game, as he K’d Kyle Tucker. Francisco Mejia starts off the bottom of the ninth with a booming triple off of the center field wall. Santana, a converted second baseman, had a bead on it but misjudged it. At this time, Jose Castillo stops warming in the bullpen. After the infield is drawn in, Machado rips a first pitch single off of Astros closer Ryan Pressly. Let the celebration begin. The series is tied 1-1.
World Series Game 3
Matt Strahm vs. Josh James
Batting lineups are the same except Tyler White replaces Seth Beer
Strahm fires four scoreless innings and is replaced by Dinelson Lamet, who strikes out the side in the fifth inning but gives up three consecutive home runs in the sixth to Tucker, Bregman and Correa. Josh James goes five scoreless but J.B. Bukauskas ends up serving up a grand slam to Fernando Tatis in the seventh inning to take the lead. The inning did not end there. The Padres scored four more runs and loaded the bases again for Fernando Tatis Jr. The camera caught Padres manager, Mark McGwire, who batted in front of Tatis Sr. and popped out prior to Tatis Sr. hitting his second grand slam in a single inning when they were members of the Cardinals in 1999. McGwire just looked into the sky and smirked. The next pitch Tatis Jr, who hit 35 homers in the regular season, scorched a fly ball to dead center and missed a grand slam by inches. The historical record was not tied, but when the inning was over, the Padres had a 12-3 lead and the Astros had a half-empty stadium. Cal Quantril and Michel Baez finished off the Astros without allowing another run. San Diego leads the series 2-1.
World Series Game 4
Logan Allen vs. Bryan Abreu
Batting lineups are the same except Seth Beer back in the lineup
The Astros went off on Allen, who sported a 2.95 ERA and 17 wins during the regular season. He did not make his way out of the first inning. Alex Bregman went yard twice, Seth Beer hit a towering home run that measured over 500 feet, and J.D. Martinez ended the game with five RBIs. Unfortunately J.D. Martinez re-injured his repaired knee attempting to breakup a double-play in a 8-0 game and was replaced by Tyler White. Abreu pitched well, striking out 12 over six innings as he continues to impress with massive strikeouts after his June call-up. His only blemish was a homer allowed to George Springer. Springer then went yard again in a meaningless ninth inning as the Padres fell 11-4 to the Astros. The series is tied 2-2.
World Series Game 5
Forrest Whitley vs. MacKenzie Gore
Batting lineups are the same except Tyler White replaces J.D. Martinez
Whitley was not as sharp tonight after throwing 128 pitches in Game 1. He gave up homers to Machado and Reyes and was lifted before the fifth. After hitting .368 during the regular season, Mejia had three more hits tonight including his second triple of the series off Lance McCullers. The Astros could not figure out Gore, who struck out 13 in seven innings of work. He demonstrated why he won the ERA title among qualifiers. After Tyler White walked to load the bases in the eighth, Jose Castillo was brought in to get the final six outs. With the tying run on deck, Castillo fanned the side in the eighth inning. He struck out another three batters in the ninth, extending his hitless innings streak to 12. Padres lead the series 3-2.
World Series Game 6
Gerrit Cole vs. Luis Patino
Batting lineups are the same
A.J. Hinch took a lot of criticism lifting the shoe-in for the Cy Young in the eighth inning in Game 2 and he was not about to make that same mistake. He let Cole work out of several jams during the game as he was helped out by two defensive gems by Carlos Correa. Patino again matched Cole, as he struck out 17 batters through seven innings. In the eighth inning Cole gave up a two-run homer to Manny Machado and the crowd at Petco went berserk. Tatis just nearly missed another homer as Hinch still stuck with his horse to close the eighth inning. In the top of the ninth, Patino again was looking for his second complete game victory and was the sure bet to win World Series MVP. He got the first two batters before Altuve dove head-first to beat out an infield single. Kyle Tucker hit a rope directly at Wil Myers that knuckled and hit off his chest leaving runners on first and second with two outs. McGwire went out to visit the young righty on the mound to discuss how to pitch to Alex Bregman. McGwire did not opt to pitch to Bregman and made a questionable decision to intentionally walk him in order to pitch to Carlos Correa. In his defense, Bregman had been on fire throughout the playoffs, hitting over .500 with homers in eight of 13 games during the postseason. Instead, Patino pitched to Carlos Correa, who had 45 homers and 176 RBIs during the regular season on his way to a unanimous MVP award. He also had Castillo warming in the pen, who hadn’t allowed a hit or walk to his last 36 batters. As you may have guessed, Correa ripped a grand slam homer to walk it off and force a game seven. The series was tied again at three games apiece.
World Series Game 7
Forrest Whitley vs. Matt Strahm
Batting lineups are the same except J.D. Martinez back in
Whitley was superb in this one after a limited workload two days ago. He gave up one run on a George Springer homer while going six strong innings. Strahm was again solid over five innings giving up only a two-run homer to Correa. Quantril, Baez and Lamet combined for four scoreless innings. They were matched by McCullers, who went two scoreless, dialing up the radar gun to 101 mph. McCullers has flourished in his relief role, accumulating 120 innings pitched with a 1.81 ERA. Ryan Pressly came on to secure the save and the title in the ninth, only to be greeted with the bottom of the order. He allowed a leadoff walk to Hosmer, but quickly erased him on a Luis Urias double play ball. Margot, who batted .245 with eight homers in the regular season, made his way up to the plate while Renfroe sat on the bench with a helmet in hand. The first pitch was an outside fastball that Margot ripped to the right field corner and took a huge kick off the wall in foul territory. Alvarez tripped over the ball and fell flat on his back. At this point, Margot was rounding second base. The throw came in and missed the cut-off and sailed over the pitcher’s mound. With Pressly covering third base, he could not reach the errant throw. Instead, a 250-pound Alfaro lumbered to retrieve the ball. However, without hesitation, Margot committed for home. Seth Beer raced to cover home, as did Altuve. Altuve actually beat Beer home but, although Alfaro’s toss was on the money, Altuve’s tag was inches too late and Margot scored the tying run. The game would go into extra innings. The Astros burned through their entire bullpen in the next eight innings and Josh James was in his second inning of work in the 21st inning. The Padres had also used up their entire bullpen including three innings of Jose Castillo. Castillo finished the playoffs with 15 hitless innings after recording 55 saves with an ERA of 1.48 and WHIP of 0.68 during the regular season. The Astros still had Bryan Abreu available and Gerrit Cole warming in the bullpen after pitching the previous night. The Padres were in worse shape. They had a gassed Patino warming in the ‘pen and had gone through all their starters including Gore. A 33-year-old Madison Bumgarner was acquired by the Padres at the trade deadline (acquired for Esteury Ruiz and Anderson Espinoza) and had made four starts and 15 relief appearances since coming to the Padres but has battled knee and shoulder issues all season, limiting his effectiveness and velocity. He had not topped 90 mph since May and had not pitched in the playoffs yet. “MadBum” came into the game in the 22nd inning and gutted out two shutout innings while topping out at 94 mph on a Kyle Tucker strikeout. James was mowing down the Padres as he struck out Margot to end the bottom of the 22nd. In the top of the 23rd, MadBum was back out and throwing all fastballs, striking out Bregman and Correa on 95 mph heaters. J.D. Martinez stepped in with a hobbled knee to face Madbum. Madbum got ahead of him 0-2, and then blew a 98 mph fastball right by him to end the 23rd. Madbum was so fired up you’d think he struck out Puig. To start the top of the 23rd, Mejia walked and Machado ripped a ball into the gap. Mejia was sent home and the relay from Correa gunned down Mejia at the plate. Machado advanced to third on the throw. After Tatis and Reyes were both intentionally walked, Myers was struck out. With two outs and on the first pitch, Springer launched a grand slam to the opposite field just over the leaping Alvarez.
After the game was over, Springer who was let walk by the Astros after 2020 and now was the World Series MVP, joked to the press that he would have leaped over the wall and caught the home run that he hit.