Get To Know A Nat: Drew Storen

2012 Washington Nationals Photo Day

Welcome to “Get To Know a Nat.” There are currently 39 men on the 40 man roster, and we’re going to give you the straight scoop on all of them!  Not sure where to start with player and season previews?  Not ready to jump into heavy metrics?  Just want to get to know the players, what they do, and what to expect from them in 2013?  Then you’ve come to the right place!

Name: Drew Patrick Storen
Nickname(s): DROOOOOO
DOB: August 11, 1987 (
Twitter?: @DrewStoren (You can also follow his mom, @PamStoren)
From: Brownsburg, Indiana
Position: Relief Pitcher Bullpen Role: Closer
Hand: Righty
With the Nats Since: Drafted 2009, Debuted 2010.

The full story of Drew Storen is not Game 5 of the NLDS.  That said,it is part of the story.  It is this tension between individual outing and overall performance that tugs at understanding any athelete in any high profile sport anywhere.  The overemphasis of the individual, or the moment, tugs at the panic button in all our cavemen brains, pushing causation to hold hands with correlation whether they are dating or not. 

As such Storen, rightly or wrongly, symbolizes both the great promise and failure of the Washington Nationals 2012 season.  Drew Storen is a young, very good (more than just promising) closer for the Washington Nationals.  Drew Storen is the great goat of many a Washingtonian as well, particularly those who aren’t all that versed in baseball or the Nationals.

After an excellent 2011 campaign, Drew Storen missed about half of 2012 to injury.  Storen returned to the field in July, and (as we will see) pitched almost better than he did in the year before in the second half of the season.  He recorded a save and win in the postseason against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

But for all of that, Drew Storen is remembered for one thing currently in Natstown, and in 2013 there is no guarantee he’ll have the opportunity to make-up for it.

What’s ExpectedBaseball Reference:

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Drew Storen closes out baseball games.  In 2011 Drew Storen was given 48 opportunities to save the game, and he converted 43. (That made him 6th in the NL in total saves-more than half of the teams 80 wins btw).  In 2012 he had just 5 chances, converting 4 (not counting the Post-Season).  Saves are a weird stat though-it just means (more or less) you were the last pitcher on the mound in a tight game.  Like a starting pitchers W/L record, it is influenced by other things going on that the pitcher has no control over. 

Fangraphs shows he has a very good WHIP and FIP, even getting slightly better in 2012-but that was such a short seasn for him, it’s tough to count on it for much.  If nothing else, it does seem to demonstrate he wasn’t hampered by his injury-so going forward, I don’t think that will be an issue.

In any event, Drew Storen doesn’t give up a lot of walks or home runs.  That’s why he’s going to close more games than not as his career goes on.  In essence, Storen routinely gives the team the best chance to win late in games because he isn’t going to (usually) beat himself.

If It All Goes Wrong:  It’s so hard to say what “all goes wrong” means in the context of a closer.  Despite a slow start to the Spring, Storen isn’t likely to have Henry Rodriguez type meltdowns on the mound anytime soon.  But if there is any position in baseball that is subject to a type of post-traumatic stress disorder, it is probably closer.  The position requires a person who’s confidence is such that they want all eyes on him in the most stressful, pressure filled moments in the game.  It’s not for the fragile, so a normal blown save ought not to rattle a guy.  But Storen was on the mound for the biggest loss in the short history of these Washington Nationals.  Even though I personally don’t lay the blame fully at his feet, many do-and Storen is keenly aware of his own culpability in the Game 5 fiasco.

This is a longwinded way of saying that I don’t think there is any reason to worry about Drew Storen physically.  He’s young, healed, and has great stuff.  What will be Storen’s downfall this year, if anything, is mental.  A nagging lack of confidence would affect his ability to concentrate and execute on the mound.  What’s worse for his confidence might be he has lost his job as the primary closer.  When called on, if Storen is trying to hard to prove to much it won’t work out well for him or the Nationals.

It is such a nebulous thing to try and pretend you can know what is going on it someone’s head though. Further speculation as to what it woudl be, or how it would affect Drew is haphazard at best-and I’d rather not indulge in it.  Suffice to say, a drop off in production would fall in this category because I don’t have any reason to doubt him physically. 

If It All Goes Right:   For what it is worth, I don’t think Drew Storen’s job as closer for the Washington Nationals is remotely done.  Drew Storen strikes me as being made of stronger stuff than to be taken down by one bad night.  If it all goes right, Drew Storen spends the year getting outs in the 8th and 9th inning.  It might not mean that he gets his job back this year as the primary closer, but he makes a clear case that when Rafael Soriano’s done after next year (or is traded in the middle of 2014) they have a closer they can trust for the foreseeable future.

The real test for Storen, as I wrote about Gio earlier today, won’t come until October.  The team will likely be in the playoffs again this year, and that’s when all the ghosts of Post-Season past will come to roost.  Even though Game 5 was a debacle, Storen did very well in the three other games he appeared in against the Cardinals and ther is plenty of blame to spread around for that game. 

Closers have good days and bad, so I don’t think it’s question of “which Drew Storen” shows up for the next Game 5.  Indeed, he could be having a great day mentally, not worried at all about last year-and still give up a hit.  That’s how it goes-so using that as the metric for “over Game 5″ won’t really tell us anything. 

Not that logic will stop people from using it in the lede in the story of Storen’s next post-season success or failure.  The full story of Drew Storen won’t be how he performs in the post-season, but it will be part of the story-and no matter what happens that story, rightly or wrongly, will start with the Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS.

Get To Know More Nats!

Starting Rotation: Ross DetwilerDan Haren, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez
Outfielders: Bryce HarperDenard SpanJayson Werth
Catchers: Wilson RamosKurt Suzuki
Infielders: Ryan ZimmermanAdam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond
Bench: Tyler MooreRoger BernadinaChad Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi
Bullpen: Ryan MattheusCraig StammenZach DukeTyler ClippardHenry RodriguezRafael Soriano
Callups: Part IPart II

 

2 thoughts on “Get To Know A Nat: Drew Storen

  1. Pingback: Get To Know A Nat: Stephen Strasburg | Nationals 101

  2. Pingback: Get To Know A Nat: Stephen Strasburg | Nationals 101

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