Analyzing Drew Storen's Climb Back to Closer
Itâ€™s been a while since Drew Storenâ€™s 43-save season where he was one of the best closers in the game. But after dealing with his injury and losing his job to the new acquisitions, Storen is finally displaying he still has the stuff to be the man in DC.
The 2012 season was the start of his tough road when he had his elbow injury and missed the majority of the season. Then came the blown save against St. Louis, leading to the Nationals losing the NLDS when they were heavily favored to win.
The next step was the acquisition of Rafael Soriano, the man who came to take Storenâ€™s job. Soriano had six blown saves in 2013, but was able to convert 43 opportunities in his first season with the Nats. Heâ€™s blown two of his three save opportunities this month, bringing his blown save total to seven this year.
Storen has been used mainly as a set-up man since Soriano came to town, number two to Tyler Clippard, one of leagueâ€™s best set-up men. The Stanford alum was able to convert 24 holds last year, but his numbers werenâ€™t his best, leading to his demotion that July.
Since that minor league stint last season, Storen has made a consistent effort to regain his title. In 2013 before being sent to AAA, Storen had a 5.95 ERA to go with a 1.51 WHIP. However, since his promotion back to the majors, he has had a 1.32 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.
One big change that is noticeable in Storenâ€™s approach is he is using his changeup more than he ever has. While he has usually relied on his slider and sinker, Storen has begun to use his change more and more each season. Last year he used it 9.4% of the time; this year heâ€™s using it 17.7% of the time and could be the difference maker in his massive amount of success.
This year has been one of Storenâ€™s best in his five-year career. His 1.29 ERA is third best among qualifying relievers and while his 2.80 FIP doesnâ€™t crack the top 30, itâ€™s still very good.
Storen has had seven save choices and blown three of them spread out through the season. After Sorianoâ€™s most recent blown save on the fifth, Storen was given a shot to close and has converted all three opportunities. All three came consecutively, the most recent coming yesterday against Atlanta.
The slide-stepping righty has made a great case to retake his job the past two months, not allowing a run since his first appearance in August. He only walked three batters in August and hasnâ€™t walked anyone in six outings this month. Over his last four outings, he hasnâ€™t allowed a base runner, striking out six batters over 3.1 innings of work.
Soriano hasnâ€™t seen the mound since recently blew a game against the last place Phillies, and he may have lost his role for the rest of the season, including the playoffs. Storen has been completely lock-down for the Nationals and showing again that he is the perfect accent to their All-Star set-up man, Clippard.