Feb 2, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT
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.
NL EAST STANDINGS
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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