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Roster review: Drew Storen

Oct 30, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2016: 28

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2009 draft

MLB service time: 5 years, 140 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $5.7 million

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2017

2015 stats: 58 G, 55 IP, 45 H, 23 R, 21 ER, 4 HR, 16 BB, 67 K, 1.109 WHIP, 29 SV, 5 BS, 2-2, 3.44 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 0.7 WAR

Quotable: “This last month and the struggles, that’s not me. I’ve had some tough times, but I’ve also come through and dealt with frustrating times and adversity and gotten through it better. I look forward to it being the same this time.” — Drew Storen, Sept. 17

2015 analysis: Drew Storen entered the season as the Nationals’ unquestioned closer, and over the ensuing four months he did nothing to suggest he didn’t deserve to remain in that role. On July 29, he owned a 1.73 ERA, 29 saves in 31 attempts and a ridiculously low .521 opponents’ OPS.

Then the Nationals made their big trade deadline acquisition, getting Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies, and suddenly Storen was bumped to a setup role. Despite his obvious frustration with what he perceived as a demotion, the right-hander initially was effective pitching the eighth inning. He retired the first 12 batters he faced after the Papelbon trade, six via strikeout.

But then came a grand slam surrendered to Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez on August 7, and everything fell apart after that. Storen wound up with a 9.22 ERA over his final 15 appearances, blowing a late lead three times and taking the loss in another game. Then, adding injury to insult, he fractured his thumb when he slammed it against his locker after a particularly difficult loss to the Mets on Sept. 9 and didn’t pitch again before season’s end.

2016 outlook: This might be the most fascinating personnel decision the Nationals face this winter. Given the way things played out following the Papelbon trade — this on the heels of the Rafael Soriano signing in 2013 — Storen might well have seen his time in D.C. come to an end. Fair or unfair, he has no reason to believe the Nationals trust him to close again. At this point, a change of scenery might be necessary.

What, though, can the Nats reasonably expect if they dangle Storen in a trade offer? He’s entering his walk year, he stands to make good money via the arbitration process and he now has melted down twice after his team acquired another closer to take his job. Opposing teams will know all of this before ever engaging in trade discussions.

Is there a chance Storen could remain in Washington in 2016? Sure, though he may always be looking over his shoulder, waiting for another vote of no confidence in him. If he can overcome all this and recapture his top form again, all credit to the right-hander.

  1. alexva6 - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    do players get better handling the mental side of the game? yes.

    can Storen be one of those players? yes again.

    but I’m afraid he is a large part of the recent failures this team has had and he has to go.

    seemingly a nice kid and a good teammate, I wish him well.

  2. Another_Sam - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    Sadly, the closer fiasco – both times – is quite a stain on Rizzo’s dance card. I realize he’s the boss and the boss can’t acknowledge his screw ups even to himself. I fear that this year it’s going to be Pap and all heads held high in the executive suite.

    • ArVAFan - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:23 AM

      Then they’d better wear noise-cancelling headphones to the park. They’ll be able to hear the booing, even through the glass in their suite. Given the Lerner’s attachment to Bryce, I can’t imagine they’d bring Pap back–even if they have to DFA him.

      I like Dru, but I do think a change of scenery is in order for him, since it’s pretty obvious that Rizzo thinks he can’t be counted on. Unfortunately, that means we’ll be facing him at some point–probably after he’s learned to avoid melt-downs.

      • jfmii - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:49 AM

        After that August 7 to September 9 stretch, do YOU think he can be counted on, ArVAFan?

      • ArVAFan - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:57 AM

        I would give him another chance without Papelbon in the clubhouse. I suspect something happened (and I have NO inside knowledge) that caused Dru to lose it. “It” being his effectiveness. Maybe it had nothing to do with Pap: maybe it was something with Rizzo, MW, or just a combination of factors. But a change of scenery would prove that out, methinks.

      • adcwonk - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:55 PM

        I suspect something happened (and I have NO inside knowledge) that caused Dru to lose it.

        But, that’s the thing. A closer has to be able to deal with adversity. One can’t help but wonder: if he can’t handle moving to be an 8th inning guy, how’s he going to handle the 9th inning of a crucial playoff game? And the question is stronger because we all know (and often focus) on his performance for a couple of past 9th innings in playoff games, right?

    • rabbit433 - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      ArVafan…..Storen had a chance without Papelbon before Paps got here. Couldn’t do it then. Yes, a change of scenery will do him good. Good luck Storen.

    • bowdenball - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:48 AM

      I would hardly call the Soriano signing a fiasco. Yeah he wasn’t very good, but it didn’t hurt the Nationals in any way. They still won 96 games and home field throughout the playoffs when he was here, he didn’t do any damage during the NLDS, and because it was a one year deal he was gone before his contract had any sort of negative impact on the Nats’ spending.

      A swing an a mess, sure. A mistake, perhaps. But hardly a fiasco. It was a low risk high reward move that didn’t pan out, nothing more.

      • jd - Oct 30, 2015 at 10:05 AM

        I take a different view here. First of all Soriano was signed for 2 years. The damage in signing him was a big no confidence vote in Drew Storen based on exactly one playoff game which in hindsight could have easily gone the other way if the umpire had the stones to call a legitimate strike 3 on Molina but I digress.

        The problem in the no confidence vote in Drew was that it was unjustified and he took it hard and under performed badly in 2013, you can call him weak or whatever else you want but you can’t deny that the drop in his effectiveness was directly related to the Soriano signing.

        In 2014 Storen wrestled the closer’s job away from Soriano on merit and held it through July 31st of 2015 when it was once again taken away from him without any justification.

        I contend that Storen’s melt down in 2015 had less to do with the demotion and more with the grand slam he gave up to Gonzalez in a situation where MW and Mc.Catty should have recognized a bad matchup and brought a lefty against whom AGon has never been very good.

        I admit that I am a Drew Storen apologist and I also accept that he hasn’t been able to put aside bad results the next time he is out there but he is also very talented and has plenty of weapons to be a top of the line closer which I expect he will be somewhere else if not here.

      • bowdenball - Oct 30, 2015 at 10:19 AM

        You’re right, two years on Soriano, but still not at a level that hindered other moves the club was in a position to make.

        I’m a Drew apologist as well, and I agree he’s been mismanaged, but the Soriano signing still didn’t really harm the club, and if it temporarily harmed Drew that’s on him, not the front office. We never heard complaining from Wade Davis or got the sense that he was frustrated by his role even though he spent a long time as a setup man behind a closer who’s clearly not as good as he is.

      • jd - Oct 30, 2015 at 10:43 AM


        So do you think we should bring Drew back to work with the new coaches or do you think all parties would be better off with a divorce? I have to tell you that I am quite conflicted on this topic.

      • Joe Seamhead - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:26 AM

        I didn’t really understand, nor did I agree with the Soriano signing at the time it was done, but 74 saves in two years was hardly a fiasco. Yes, he also had a total of 13 blown saves over the 2 years, but about half of those came after the all-star break in 2014 when he just seemed to fall apart after a spectacular first half.

      • trfwans - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:29 AM

        You seem to be forgetting all about 2013, the first year of Soriano’s two year deal – when Storen bottomed out, got sent to the minors, and the Nats ended up missing the playoffs. That was kind of a fiasco.

      • Joe Seamhead - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:31 AM

        It also amazed me that Davey Johnson wasn’t consulted about Soriano in any way before he was signed. Even though they didn’t always agree, Rizzo had a lot of respect for Davey’s opinion , which was why I always wondered who was really behind the signing of Soriano, Rizzo, or the owners.

      • trfwans - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        Davey didn’t exactly make himself avaiable for consultation while the Soriano deal was going down. He was on safari in Africa and probably not checking his phone for texts or emails.

  3. JayB - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Come on…keeping Drew is the same old same old loser mentality that has prevented this team from reaching it’s potential. Rizzo and this fan base to some extent gets to attached to players.

    Storen earned his way out of DC in more than one way. He will make way to much money to be worth it and if Rizzo took that money he could get two equal or better BP arms….He also earned a ticket out by being a bad closer in stress situations…..closing games in May and June on a first place team is not closing. Drew is who his playoff and big baby act he has done twice….he is not a winner on the type of team we need change to.

    Bud needs to be the leader of a completely new Nats clubhouse and it does not need baby drew sulking in the corner.

    • mauimo22 - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:23 AM

      I agree that Capt Meltdown does his share of sulking. It’s kind of too bad the Nats made the move for Pap, in hindsight of course. Anyone who slams their hand in a locker and removes himself from pitching due to a self-inflicted injury has no business on this team! I hope they didn’t pay his salary over this period also.
      Time for Drew to go.
      I would give Pap one more chance.

      Can you imagine if we pounced on Cespedes and not Pap?
      May have been a different result.

      MW made too many bonehead mistakes and I welcome a seasoned professional, Mr. Bud Black.

  4. JayB - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    The New Nats also can not let Jason Werth run the show and get what he wants……Ryan Z and Werth need to be told they have earned 350 ABs a year but that this team is not going to be built on any more ABs for them. If they earn them great….but that is no longer the plan and if they do not like it they should think long and hard about why they think they are team cause they are not!

  5. Doc - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    Whatever Papelbon did or didn’t do had very little to do with what Storen did or didn’t do. This is baseball not a soap opera.

    There is a new game in town and Drew will not be playing in it.

    • JayB - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:23 AM


  6. JayB - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    If Werth does not like what he has earned then the needs to wave no trade clause and become DH. Same for Zim…….The New Nats need to operate like a winning team not a employee ownership group with life time employment goals.

  7. jd - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    1) Let’s keep in mind that the Nats are likely to lose Thornton, Jansen and Paplebon from the pen.
    2) You can’t buy 4 relievers on the free agent market, that would be a pretty stupid investment.
    3) I think you absolutely bring back Drew Storen, treat him with respect and recognize that he is a bad matchup against certain left handed hitters and in game situations against these hitters (like Carlos Gonzalez) you bring in your loogy.
    4) I think the Nats should go all in on Darren O’Day, they should promote Solis and perhaps even Cole and see if a new coaching staff can help elevate pitchers with great talent but bad results (Treinen).

    • ArVAFan - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:54 AM

      I’m with you on O’Day. But not on a long-term contract: he’s not a spring chicken.

    • jeffreycbullock - Oct 30, 2015 at 4:16 PM

      I am replying way too late (I got behind on other work) but you do not want O’Day as a closer – submariners eventually start getting knocked all over the park by lefties – if it hasn’t happened to O’Day yet, it will. I have seen it happen too many times.

  8. veejh - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    I agree with JayB. Time for a clean slate, even if the void if filled with a perceived lesser piece. No way I want Drew closing again in a high lev spot, EVER.

  9. unkyd59 - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    My idea:

    By hook or by crook, get rid of Paps. Then, rizzo, black and drew meet, riz apologizes for jacking him around, and black and riz assure dry that his fate for ’16 is in black’s hands, only. Black further professes to be Drews biggest fan, and has his back… That Rizzo will not make any moves, re: the closer, unless Black says so… Pie in the sky, I know, but anybody got a better idea?

    • trfwans - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      Yes. Keep Storen, but don’t guarantee him the closer job. Sign O’Day or someone similar and let them compete for the job in spring training and beyond. Storen has always been at his best when he’s competing for his job or trying to prove something. If he has to compete for the closer job, he’ll pitch great. If he wins the job, he’ll have to compete to keep it. Also, it’s his walk year and he needs to prove his worth to get a good FA deal.

  10. mwgchess - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    I’ve been a Storen fan up until this year but he really imploded. A team with two closers should not lose a 4-1 lead going into the eight against a last place club (Colorado). I think that with a new manager they should probably reshape the bullpen as well. Try to forget the memory of last years disaster. If the Nats eat a bit of Papelbon’s contract they might be able to fetch something for him. Maybe an Aaron Sanchez from the Jays is an idea. I no longer trust Storen in a big game situation. I can understand blowing some 1 run leads, it happens to the best of them. However, 3, 4 or even 5 runs is far from acceptable. I just find it frustrating because he has proven he has the ability to be so good. I also don’t think signing a Chapman or Kimbrel will solve our problems. It’s going to take Trea Turner and more to get one of them and getting to 9th inning is another big question. I think we need to get some solid proven Big league relievers that can keep the bullpen afloat until Treinin and Cole and Rivero are ready. I like the O’day idea and I hope the Nats go for him.

    As for the offense I think we need to sign one more solid bat. I am a big Alex Gordon fan so I hope we go out and acquire someone like that. I think we are pretty much set for the infield. Even if we do see regression from Escobar, he would be playing middle infield a position that isn’t known for much production anyway.

    This is what I think we should have the opening day lineup as,

    1. Taylor/Werth CF (like someone better but you can’t have it all)
    2. Rendon 3rd
    3.Harper RF
    4. Gordontype LF
    5. Zimmerman/Robinson 1st
    6. Escobar 2nd
    7. Espinosa SS (hopefully Turner comes up to hit leadoff next year
    8. Ramos C
    9. Pitcher

    • natfan33 - Oct 30, 2015 at 10:28 PM

      Werth in CF??? HAHAHA

      • mwgchess - Oct 31, 2015 at 10:28 AM

        Your right I didn’t make it clear. I would have Taylor play center in his games and when Werth played he would be left. The plan is to bring Harper or a new outfielder to CF when Werth is playing.

  11. lesatcsc - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    Storen is not the first, nor will he be the last baseball player with exceptional skills whose head prevents him from realizing his full potential. He pines for the role of closer (which is really a desire to be in a more glamourous and lucrative role than the equally important setup role) but in the biggest games has failed in that role. If you want to be “that” guy, the one the team absolutely depends on to get them three outs when the season is on the line, then you better deliver when the opportunity presents itself. Simply put, Drew has not done that.

    Add in the broken thumb and I think it is clear that Drew doesn’t have the mental makeup to earn that trust. Perhaps the Nats have known that all along.

    At this stage I think that it is obvious that management does not trust Drew to be the closer. You can argue with whether that is fair or not, but it is obvious that they do not have any confidence in him in that role. Since apparently he will not or cannot accept anything other than being the closer without losing his composure, that makes him pretty worthless to the Nats. That doesn’t mean he cannot be a good closer on a poor team, but I cannot see a good team trusting him in that role and he doesn’t seem to be willing to accept anything else. I think Drew would make great sense to a team like the Phillies who won’t be good for a couple of years and can use him to close a ton of meaningless games while they develop the guy they will use when they start playing meaningful games.

    What I find a little hard to understand is why Storen cannot accept another role. His team had a clear need for a setup man. t’s not like Drew was being banished to the bullpen to pitch long relief (a role which some guys would kill for). He was going to be pitching in key situations on an almost daily basis. He was going to be filling a critical role in helping his team get to the post-season. I recognize that it isn’t as sexy as getting saves, but as we saw all year long, it is every bit as important, as being the closer. It may even be more important in some respects. So really, Drew’s meltdown has everything to do with his ego and nothing to do with what was best for the team. If we’re proposing to dump Papelbon for that reason, then I don’t see how you can keep Storen either. He is every bit as big a prima donna. At least Paps didn’t break his hand on his locker.

    BTW,given Nats pitchers penchant for breaking bones on lockers, when are the Nats going to invest in styrofoam lockers?

    • adcwonk - Oct 30, 2015 at 1:00 PM

      when are the Nats going to invest in styrofoam lockers?

      Good one!!

  12. Joe Seamhead - Oct 30, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    Years ago I shot a lot of pool. Storen always reminded me of guys that I knew that would run the table and then scratch on the 8 ball.

  13. Section 222 - Oct 30, 2015 at 2:17 PM

    Even though this is a horse that has long since been pummelled beyond recognition and sent to the glue factory, I’ve been entertained by the discussion. I’m amazed that anyone wants to “give Drew another chance,” and almost as amazed at the creativity of the excuses for him. (Rizzo doesn’t have confidence in him, CarGo is a terrible matchup, poor Drew!). In the biggest, most important situations he has repeatedly done an imitation of Joel Hanrahan (when he was a Nat, not after), and then, for a crowning moment, of Ryan Mattheus. Time for a change.

    • jd - Oct 30, 2015 at 2:56 PM


      Some of my points are perfectly legit. Drew was lights out in the 2nd half of 2012 up to game 5 of the NLDS where with any luck at all he would have recorded a series winning save. That did not merit a demotion and the demotion and the insertion of Soriano backfired. Storen was also lights out the entire year in 2015 right up to the game against the Rockies and mock it all you want but Cargo is a bad matchup for Drew Storen and the manager and pitching coach ought to know that.

      Again in 2015 your closer who has an ERA of under 2.00 and a grand total of 2 blown saves gets replaced because the ownership has a hunch that said closer will fail in the upcoming playoffs (duh, make the playoffs 1st) by a serial jerk who famously lives up to his reputation.

      I fully admit that Drew’s reactions to failure and demotions were not the best but you and others should be careful what you wish for because there is no doubt that Drew Storen is a whole lot better than many of the available options open to the team at this time.

      • unkyd59 - Oct 30, 2015 at 4:20 PM

        +1, to your whole comment, jd

      • lesatcsc - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:29 PM

        Perhaps, but he still doesn’t have the ice water running through is veins that a big time closer on a championship team needs. He would be a great set up guy but he isn’t willing or able to do that. I think he will compile excellent stats with a team that plays all its meaningful games in April and May. Anyone think the Cards would go into a season with Drew as their closer. I thought not.

      • unkyd59 - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:42 PM

        And yet, many of the greatest success stories had failure, in the first few chapters…

      • jd - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:53 PM

        check out how many games the great Mariano Rivera blew to the Red Sox in their championship year. How about game 7 of the world series against Arizona?

      • Section 222 - Oct 30, 2015 at 10:47 PM

        jd, I really could care less how lights out he was on 2012, or how unlucky he was in Game 5. The bottom line was he couldn’t handle the pressure. It doesn’t matter one whit whether he “deserved” to be demoted. Rizzo decided to try to improve the team by bringing in Soriano, and Storen couldn’t accept that. He completely fell apart in 2013, ends up in the minors, and rebuilds his career. And then he feels entitled again even, after failing, again, under the bright lights of Game 2. So when Rizzo makes a smart and virtually cost free move to improve the team, Drew reacts like a spoiled child. His meltdown was epic, and the idea that it’s all someone else’s fault (namely, the pitching coach who didn’t realize they couldn’t trust their setup guy against an all-star hitter like CarGo) is absurd. And then he slams the locker without moving his thumb. And we’re supposed to feel sorry for this guy?

        Clip lost his closer job too, remember, to Drew in 2012, and then when he was traded from the A’s to the Mets. He never sulkied, he never complained, he never blew up. He just keeps doing his job and getting paid handsomely for it. Why couldn’t Drew do that?

        As for being careful what I wish for, sadly, I have a lot more confidence that Rizzo understands the need to rebuild this bullpen than I do in Drew Storen. I’ll take my chances.

      • janebeard - Nov 2, 2015 at 10:49 AM

        I’m totally with you jd. Totally.

  14. mwgchess - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:41 PM

    If the Nationals sign or trade two proven relievers then I think the Bullpen will be ok. Papelbon is almost certainly gone, so we won’t have a set closer. However, If we manage to sign O’day and another solid reliever those two and Storen can compete for the closer role. I also wouldn’t be apposed to trading Storen away if we got a decent reliever for him. Perhaps this would be the best course of action as it would help remove some of last season’s bitter taste from the Nats mouths. By the way, I calculated that Ian Desmond and Drew Storen combined lost us 8 games this year. We only finished 7 out.

    • donniebenth - Oct 31, 2015 at 6:53 PM

      I have a slightly different take on Drew. He’s so slight that he often has to overthrow to hit his velocity.

      I think this contributes a bit to his trouble in high leverage spots. He just misses corners and can’t just rear back and let it fly.

      • mwgchess - Oct 31, 2015 at 8:03 PM

        Yes, My comment was not so much on the mechanics of how he pitches but rather the results he gets. I agree on your analysis of why he has so much trouble. Quite often his pitches run right back over the plate serving up extra base hits.





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