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Roster preview: Drew Storen

Feb 2, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 26

How acquired: Drafted 1st round (10th pick), June 2009

2014 salary: $3.45 million (plus $1M if he finishes 60 games)

2013 Stats: 68 G, 20 GF, 3 SV, 8 SVO, 61.2 IP, 65 H, 34 R, 31 ER, 7 HR, 19 BB, 58 K, 1.362 WHIP, 4-2, 4.52 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 0.2 WAR

2014 storyline: There’s no question 2014 is a big year for Drew Storen, who desperately needs to bounce back from last season. How he performs could determine his future with the franchise in several ways. He isn’t the starting closer as of now, but with Rafael Soriano’s contract likely to end after 2014, there is a huge opportunity for Storen. If he can establish himself as a reliable commodity for Matt Williams, the idea of him earning the primary closer job for 2015 is not out of the question. It would be the ideal scenario for the Nationals as well, who could use Storen instead of going out into free agency or the trade market next offseason looking for a new ninth-inning guy.

If Storen does not play well, however, it could very well be the last year he pitches for the Nationals. There have been so many trade rumors surrounding Storen over the past few years, there has to be some truth to them. With the idea of trading him already on their minds, will the Nationals bring Storen back after two bad seasons? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Best-case scenario: Storen enters 2014 as the backup closer, so the best-case scenario would have to involve him regaining the starting job. It could happen because of injury or a bad season by Rafael Soriano, but an ideal situation for the Nats would be Storen winning it on his own merits by the end of the year, or at least solidifying himself as the man for 2015. If Storen can keep his ERA below 3.00 and make at least 60 appearances, he’d be the perfect option to spell Soriano or Tyler Clippard on a given night. He would also help solidify depth in the Nationals’ bullpen overall.

Worst-case scenario: Last season was pretty much the worst-case scenario for Storen as not only did he struggle, he was sent down to Triple-A to figure it out. His numbers were easily the worst of his career and it would seem it can’t get any worse. But, of course, it can. A worst-case scenario for Storen – even worse than 2013 – would definitely involve injuries and another demotion. Given how good he was just two years ago, however, another step back is unlikely.

Most-likely scenario: Storen’s numbers before 2013 suggest last year was a bit of a fluke. He’s had a rough time over the last 15 months, but finished last season strong with a 0.79 ERA across 11 September appearances. It’s unlikely Storen all of a sudden becomes the elite relief pitcher he once was, but it’s probably a safe bet he’s better than he was last season. Storen will most likely make around 65 appearances, hold an ERA in the low-3.00s and finish the year with 11 or 12 saves. He’ll get a chance to steal some saves from Soriano because of his vesting option and audition for 2015. That would set him up well for the following season and re-establish his standing as a key piece for the franchise moving forward.

  1. TimDz - Feb 2, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Preiction…Storen is the primary closer by August this year…..

    • TimDz - Feb 2, 2014 at 7:21 PM

      Prediction, even…..

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 2, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    Two quick comments:

    — I think it’s a bit of stretch to use the phrase “…becomes the elite relief pitcher he once was…’ with regard to Drew Storen. This is not a knock on Mr. Storen, but just acknowledgement that he’s only really had one and not-quite-a-half ‘elite’ years (2011 and after his 2012 return). Not to pick nits, but the real question is whether he’ll live up to his long-anticipated potential.

    — As someone pointed out the other day, Rafael Soriano seemed (impression; not stat checked) to struggle when called upon to finish a third game in three days. Whether to address that issue or to hold down the number of games Mr. Soriano is asked to finish, I hope the Nats give Mr. Storen a chance to close — and thus prove himself to be a reliable closer — in such situations.

    • Jb - Feb 2, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      Perhaps if Soriano dropped the untucking and other quirky mannerisms he’d have more energy on the third day.

    • David Proctor - Feb 2, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      “Rafael Soriano seemed (impression; not stat checked) to struggle when called upon to finish a third game in three days”

      I went ahead and looked it up. Rafael Soriano pitched 3 days in a row 7 times (including once where he pitched 4 days in a row).

      April 9: 1 inning, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, save
      June 21: 1 inning, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, save
      June 27: 1 inning, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeout, 0 runs, non-save situation
      July 6: 1 inning, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 0 runs, save
      July 27: 1 inning, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, save
      August 15: 1 inning, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 3 runs, blown save
      August 23: 1 inning, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 1 run (FOURTH DAY), save

      It doesn’t appear that he typically struggled. In fact, he says that he struggled when he went without work for too long. So let’s put that to the test. Let’s look at how he pitched when he hadn’t pitched for at least 4 days.

      April 16 (6 days): 1 inning, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 0 runs, non-save situation
      April 25 (5 days): 1 inning, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 0 runs, non-save situation
      May 16 (4 days): 1 inning, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 0 runs, non-save situation
      May 21 (4 days): 1 inning, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 run, blown save
      May 31 (7 days): 1 inning, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, save
      June 8 (8 days): 1 inning, 3 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, non-save situation
      June 19 (4 days): 1 inning, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 0 runs, non-save situation
      June 25 (4 days): 1 inning, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 1 run, save
      July 4 (7 days): 1 inning, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, save
      July 19 (5 days): 1 inning, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 run, got the loss
      July 25 (5 days): 0.1 inning, 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 4 runs, non-save situation
      August 10 (7 days): 1 inning, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, save
      September 17 (6 days): 1 inning, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 0 runs, non-save situation
      September 28 (6 days): 1 inning, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 0 runs, save

      You can draw your own conclusions from that, but it does appear he often went an unusual amount of time between appearances. He should never have gone 6, 7 or 8 days without pitching, especially not 7 times.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Feb 2, 2014 at 9:36 PM

        Very useful; thanks.

      • alexva6 - Feb 3, 2014 at 7:40 AM

        you have to wonder if the games finished clause led to the inactivity

      • Jb - Feb 3, 2014 at 8:37 AM

        His obvious disdain at pitching in non-save situations is what led to the inactivity. Teams regularly go 6, 7, 8 games without having a save situation. Particularly when they’re playing at or under .500 as the Nats were much of the year.

  3. sjm308 - Feb 2, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    I have commented several times that I think Storen is our closer in 2015 but. Would not mind if Tim is correct.

    I continue to be impressed with all the time spent by regulars here to prove/disprove various issues. I learn so much.

    I am one who likes Soriano’s calm cool demeanor and I also have no problem with him talking to his cap and whether his shirt stays in or out is no big deal for me either.

  4. sjm308 - Feb 2, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    I have commented several times that I think Storen is our closer in 2015 but. Would not mind if Tim is correct.

    I continue to be impressed with all the time spent by regulars here to prove/disprove various issues. I learn so much.

    I am one who likes Soriano’s calm cool demeanor and I also have no problem with him talking to his cap and whether his shirt stays in or out is no big deal for me either.

  5. sjm308 - Feb 2, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Not sure why that happened

  6. scnatsfan - Feb 2, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    Hey it is simple. Drew shows he can do the job then job is there. Shows he can’t then rent don’t buy.

  7. Theophilus T.S. - Feb 2, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    The worse Storen does the less likely he will be traded. He’s already a long ways from “elite” status (if ever he was actually “elite”). Nobody will trade for him unless there is a strong bounce back. They will wait to see if the Nats throw him on the garbage heap.

    I predict a better-than-good to great season. He does not have any pressure on him to be a “great closer” — he needs only to be a great “once-in-a-while closer” and an unflappable set-up guy. Relax, Drew. The pressure is on only when there are high expectations.

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FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

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ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
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MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

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