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Nats backing Storen after his tough weekend

Aug 10, 2015, 8:27 AM EDT

USA Today

Life as a late-inning reliever is such that whenever a miscue occurs — however rare it might be — it’ll tend to be remembered far more often than a long stretch of dominance.

That’s very much the case these days for Drew Storen, whose back-to-back tough outings against the Colorado Rockies has already begun to induce panic for parts of the Nationals fanbase. For sure, the 27-year-old right hander had an off weekend, surrendering a lead Friday night on an eighth inning go-ahead grand slam by Carlos Gonzalez and yielding a two-run single from DJ LeMahieu Sunday afternoon that broke a 4-4 tie.

But when gauging the clubhouse reaction to his struggles, it’s clear that Storen has had the kind of season that has given him the benefit of the doubt among his teammates.

“He’s still great. He’s an amazing pitcher,” Anthony Rendon said after Sunday’s loss. “He’s had like, two [bad] games? He has what, 30 saves? You’re going to quit on him already?”

Indeed, prior to the Rockies series, Storen had retired 15 of the first 16 hitters he faced since becoming the team’s setup man. Going back to before the trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon, he hadn’t allowed a run in 14 straight appearances before his blown save/loss Friday night vs. Colorado.

“Drew’s fine,” said Ryan Zimmerman. “To go a whole year without having any sort of rough patch or a couple bad games is unheard of for relievers most of the time. He’ll be fine. He’s the least of our worries.”

It’s a valid point that over the course of a 162-game season, it’s pretty difficult to avoid a rough patch of some kind — no matter who you are. But unfortunately for the Nats, Storen’s dry spell comes at the worst possible time, with the club scuffling as a whole in the midst of a pennant race with the NL East-leading New York Mets.

“We have bad games,” Rendon said. “It’s not like we go out there saying ‘oh, we’re going to give it up today’ or ‘I’m going to strike out three times today’. It’s baseball. Sometimes you get a hit, sometimes you strike out.”

While this past weekend could wind up being no more than a blip on the radar, the Nats know they need Storen to quickly return to being the lockdown eighth-inning option he must be in order to maintain what the team believes can be a dynamic back-end of the bullpen.

“I think that’s it important for us to realize where Drew has been and how important he’s been for us,” said manager Matt Williams, “and to continue to show the confidence we have in him. It’s important for us to do that as a team.”

  1. scnatsfan - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:05 AM

    We know… This team has its other’s back. You won’t hear a negative thing about anybody.

    I’m guessing at fan appreciation day they will be giving away chocolate syrup because there will be a ton left over. Unless, of course, the team wakes up.

  2. Owen Weislow - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Drew may have gone thru a difficult stretch, but he was not helped by his manager’s decision to pitch to leMahieu even tho first base was open.

    Sent from my iPad

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:55 AM

      Or not bring Rivero Friday to face CarGo.

      • paulfortier - Aug 10, 2015 at 4:08 PM

        You are totally right.

  3. adcwonk - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    Every reliever, even the best, hits a rough patch.

    Aroldis Chapman had a streak of five games where he gave up runs in three of them — resulting in a loss and a blown save (which the Reds later lost). He came in with two guys on in the 9th (Reds leading 4-0), and proceeded to allow a sac fly, a walk, and a HR. To the Phillies.

    Kimbrel, too. He had a streak of six games where he gave up runs in four of them — blowing his ERA up to 5.75. He’s now got his ERA down to 2.70. (Which is exactly what Drew has right now).

  4. manassasnatsfan - Aug 10, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    Timing is everything. The later in the season the worse the timing.

    Storen’s history has unfortunately had 2 October’s that gives more people uneasy feeling.

    • rlndtln - Aug 10, 2015 at 10:06 AM

      Drew is not the real problem.We had 2 real needs .A lefty bat that can play the outfield and a good set up guy.Instead we get Pap and apparently upset Drew who was lights out as are closer.The recent teams beating us load the lineup with left handed bats.We have no power bats from the left side other than Bryce who they pitch around.As can be seen with Max a great pitcher teams load up with lefties against him.Right now with Denard out and finished we have done nothing to get that lefty bat.Instead incredulously we go to a 4 man bench.

  5. Section 222 - Aug 10, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    Here’s an untrue statement: ” whenever a miscue occurs — however rare it might be — it’ll tend to be remembered far more often than a long stretch of dominance.”

    We remember Drew’s dominance. This year, last year, 2012 regular season. We remember it well. That’s why it’s so frustrating when he blows big games — Game 5, Game 2, and two in a row in a series the Nats really should have won.

    Frankly I’m tired of the drama around Drew Storen. He’s not a kid any more. He shouldn’t have to be handled with kid gloves. If he doesn’t turn it around after these two bad games, it’s not because the Nats treated him badly or made him feel bad.

    At least this weekend might put to rest the notion that Rizzo shouldn’t have signed Pap.

    • rlndtln - Aug 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      Everybody is talking about Ramos not running out the HR.Did anyone notice the SO of Reyes in the 5th and his passed ball.A simple drop to his knees and glove open and down stops that.Instead he always wants to back hand the ball leaning away.This again is coaching.

    • dryw4nats - Aug 10, 2015 at 11:02 AM

      But I think the “treating Drew with kid gloves” narrative comes more from us on the outside speculating than on any reality. After he was demoted, Drew told the media that he didn’t want to talk about it and that his agent was in ongoing talks with the team. No sulking, whining, or breakdowns there. He came out in his next four starts and pitched with impressive dominance. Again, not a sign of a whiny baby. He broke down in these last two starts, but as has been mentioned above, it does happen to relievers. As has also been mentioned by other posters, although he is certainly responsible for both of his bad starts, in each of them he has also at least partly been the victim of bad luck and/or bad managing decisions. Could we argue that an elite reliever will overcome such things and pitch out of the jams? Sure, but that’s questioning his abilities, not whether he’s sulking over the decision to bring in Papelbon. There have also been plenty of moment on camera that caught Drew and Paps sitting out in the pen together, with no apparent bad blood between them. So anyone suggesting that he needs to be handled with kid gloves is doing it because of their own speculation and not anything Drew has done or not done.

      • Section 222 - Aug 10, 2015 at 11:10 AM

        Fair points. I’m not sure I agree that Drew’s comments after Pap was acquired didn’t display some sulking. One might have expected the media savvy Drew to utter the obligatory “I just want to win, and I’ll do anything they ask me to.” (See Doug Fister.) But you’re right that it’s mostly commenters here who seem concerned for him. We all hope that these two bad outings are aberrations and he reverts to his previous lights out form. If he does that, the drama will either dissipate or become beside the point.

  6. Section 222 - Aug 10, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    ICYMI — Buster Olney’s tweet that Mark retweeted:

    “ESPN Stats/Info: Since the start of July, Bryce Harper batting .324 with a .532 SLG. Rest of team (except pitchers): .216 average, .349 SLG.”

    Over that stretch, the Nats are 14-19. One hitter and a pitching staff can’t carry a team very far.

    • knoxvillenat - Aug 10, 2015 at 11:59 AM

      Saw that from Olney and hopefully we see signs of those numbers improving from guys like RZ, Werth, Ramos etc. still miss Span in so many ways!

  7. Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 10, 2015 at 11:08 AM

    OT, because this is never going to be a topic, and the current topic has been wrung deader than Kelsey’s nuts:

    Has Faraz, our old friend in here, changed his handle or something? I don’t recall seeing anything in here this year.

    • adcwonk - Aug 10, 2015 at 11:30 AM

      I searched — his last post here (under that handle) was in March.

      I second that question

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 10, 2015 at 11:58 AM

        I think that we have been missing several quality posters. Eric, SJM308, gonats, to name a few.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 10, 2015 at 12:16 PM

        … with occasional rare sightings of Scooter, Catcher50, Michele, NatsNut …

        I feel like an existentialist Miss Nancy.

        “I don’t see Jean-Paul, I don’t see Simone, I don’t see Albert, I don’t see Henry — wait, I do see you, Henry Miller. Stop that!”

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:14 PM

        SJM is posting on MASN and he is missed here. Gonats was harrassed here and said he was done and Nats128 emailed me that he is done. Michele posts on Twitter and Eric is an optimist who like most of us hate the constant negativity.

        NatsJack only posts here occasionally and he had his fair share of getting personally attacked.

        Feelwood seems to always find his way back under a new name Woo!

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 10, 2015 at 2:03 PM

        And there’s a few we remember fondly. I salute you, Flynnie and NatsFan.

  8. stoatva - Aug 10, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    I have not yet panicked, but as of today I am prepared to do so at a moment’s notice.

  9. NatsLady - Aug 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    Everybody’s got troubles. We’re gonna see the Dodgers, right. They just got swept by the Pirates–that makes for a long flight West. You mad at how Matty manages the bullpen? Wanna switch him for Donnie? LA was leading 5-3 when the seventh inning began. They were losing 12-5 when it ended. Yeah, that’s nine runs. Mattingly left Johnson in while he hit a batter, gave up six singles and walked a guy–six runs. Johnson exited with two on base and the next guy gave up a homer. Eight (count ’em EIGHT) of the runs came with two outs.

    Now lemme tell you about the Giants, who just got swept in a four-gamer by the Cubs….

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 10, 2015 at 12:31 PM

      Not to mention the pre-season all-in Padres’ Bud Black, whom many considered a very good manager indeed, and Marlins manager Mike Redmond, whom many considered … a solid backup catcher. Speaking of people we haven’t seen lately.

    • BatBoy - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:15 PM

      Love you Nats Lady!

    • dryw4nats - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:36 PM

      Thanks NL!!

    • adcwonk - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:38 PM

      There you go again, NL, trying to offer perspective 😉

  10. NatsLady - Aug 10, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    Oh, and Howie Kendrick pulled a hammy and Justin Turner is on the DL, so they’ll be on the hunt for a second baseman…

    The Giants effective rotation consists of Madison Bumgarner.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 10, 2015 at 12:33 PM

      “The Giants effective rotation consists of Madison Bumgarner.”

      Well, that was true in the World Series, too. So there’s that.

      • BatBoy - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:25 PM

        Nats have always beat up Mad Bumb!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:30 PM

        Madison is tougher in San Fran. Just saying.

    • BatBoy - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      We GOT THIS!! BELIEVE NATS FANS BELIEVE!! GYFNG! BELIEVE!

  11. BatBoy - Aug 10, 2015 at 1:13 PM

    We be ten games up, for Ian’s early season disaster! Love my Desi, but! GYFNG!!!

    • rlndtln - Aug 10, 2015 at 2:18 PM

      This was the year to win in the NL.The dodgers,Giants and even the Cards are far from unbeatable.

  12. senators5 - Aug 10, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    Theoretically, no team is unbeatable, BUT the two teams right now closest to that are the Cards and the Blue Jays.

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