Results tagged ‘ Drew Storen ’
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Another playoff disappointment put a damper on an otherwise strong 2014 for Drew Storen, but the Nationals right-hander hasn’t spent his offseason dwelling on it.
“It’s just part of it. You understand when you’ve been there before,” Storen said Saturday at NatsFest. “Tough taste in your mouth to end the year, but that’s what fuels you for the next. We have a great team coming into this year, and like I said, you just build off that experience more than anything else.”
Storen posted a 1.12 ERA during the regular season, took over as closer for Rafael Soriano in September and converted all 11 of his chances. Then came the National League Division Series, and for the second time in three years, Storen stumbled. He blew a save against the Giants in Game 2 and gave up a run in a shaky Game 3 outing.
But a few things have helped the 27-year-old ease his mind this offseason. For one thing, he’s been through this type of experience before and come back from it as strong as ever. For another, he got married and went on a relaxing, sun-filled honeymoon. And finally, he’s received vocal support from manager Matt Williams and general manager Mike Rizzo, with the latter telling reporters at last week’s Winter Meetings that, “We trust Drew,” and that Storen is “penciled into the ninth inning” for 2015.
“Any guy throwing late in the game wants to be the closer,” said Storen, who also saved 43 games for Washington in ‘11. “But I think more importantly, to have that vote of confidence from Matt and management, for me it’s great. It means a lot. But it doesn’t change my approach to anything, and I’m not going to go out there and do anything different than last year.”
Tyler Clippard and Matt Thornton do give the Nats other ninth-inning options, but they are both in line to become free agents after this season, one year earlier than Storen. At the same time, Storen also understands “that things can change quickly.”
After he blew a save and took a loss in Game 5 of the ‘12 NLDS against the Cardinals, he saw Rizzo swoop in late to sign Soriano to a two-year deal in January ‘13. Soriano, now a free agent again, spent most of the next two seasons as closer.
“It doesn’t change my job whether they came out and said, ‘We’re going to do this, Plan A, B, or C.’ It doesn’t matter,” Storen said. “I still have to be ready and do my job. It doesn’t change too much, but like I said, it’s nice to have someone say positive comments about you.”
Closer or not, the most important thing for Storen has been his resurgence following a brief demotion to Triple-A in August ‘13. Since returning with a revamped delivery, he owns a 1.19 ERA, the lowest of any Major League pitcher with at least 50 innings over that span.
“It’s really just kind of simplifying things,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to go out there and do too much. Outings went by kind of quick, which is good. You go out there and attack guys and utilize the defense we had.”
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Rafael Soriano entered Sunday’s game against the Cubs with a one-run lead in the ninth inning, tossed six of his eight pitches for strikes and retired the side in order for his 21st save. It was a performance representative of the closer’s strong season, yet Soriano was not among the pitchers named to the National League All-Star team a couple of hours later.
Soriano headed the list of snubs for the Nats, who have only one guaranteed All-Star despite a 48-39 record that puts them a half-game behind the Braves in the NL East. While right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was selected for the second year in a row and infielder Anthony Rendon is one of five Final Vote candidates, Washington has at least a few other players who can argue reasonably for inclusion.
“I think there’s some guys that are deserving, Soriano being one of them,” Zimmermann said. “He’s having a great year. Hopefully we can get Rendon in there, too.”
In his second season with Washington, Soriano has converted 21 of 23 save opportunities and held the opposition scoreless in 32 of his 35 appearances. He boasts a 1.03 ERA and .154 opponents’ average in 35 innings, with 11 walks, 18 hits and only one home run allowed, along with 32 strikeouts.
Then there’s the set-up duo of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, which has been about as reliable getting leads to Soriano as he has been saving them. Storen allowed a run on Sunday, only his fourth in 27 innings this season, a 1.33 ERA to go along with a .204 opponents’ average. Clippard wiggled out of a jam in the eighth inning for his 29th scoreless appearance out of his past 30. He’s posted a 1.89 ERA, a .200 opponents’ average and 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Clippard was asked if he was surprised the back end of the Nats’ bullpen came up empty in terms of All-Star nods.
“It’s a joke, to be honest with you,” he said. “I don’t know who’s gonna make it. I’m sure there’s a lot of worthy guys out there, but what Soriano’s done this year, there’s no way he doesn’t make the All-Star team, in my opinion. That guy’s got under a 1.00 ERA and 21 saves, and it’s incredible that he didn’t make it.”
Beyond Rendon and the bullpen, first baseman Adam LaRoche has an argument for making his first Midsummer Classic in his 11-year career. After going 0-for-2 with a pair of walks on Sunday, LaRoche is hitting .294/.401/.482, which would give him the second-highest OPS of his career and the eighth-best in the NL this season.
However, LaRoche also missed 14 games with a quad strain, which has cut into his counting stats (12 home runs, 45 RBIs). That hurts in a crowded field of NL first basemen.
Of course, the Nats’ All-Star contingent still could grow, either through the Final Vote or the usual flood of replacements due to injury or other factors.
“I think there’s a couple other guys that are deserving to go,” center fielder Denard Span said. “Rendy’s in the running for it, so hopefully he gets it. But I think he’s been an All-Star. You could argue for Soriano. He’s been lights-out. You could argue for Adam. There’s two or three guys extra that I think should be acknowledged, especially because we’ve been playing good baseball as a team. We’re pretty much a first-place team, and we only have one guy, so I think that’s a little odd.”
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Nationals relievers came into Friday with a 2.56 ERA that ranked first in the Majors, and after Drew Storen surrendered a leadoff double to the Braves’ Tommy La Stella in the seventh inning, the bullpen set down the next 18 in a row.
That performance set the stage for Washington to rally and send the game into extra innings, but eventually, manager Matt Williams found himself backed into a corner.
When the 13th inning rolled around, Williams already had used Storen, Craig Stammen, Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Jerry Blevins. His options at that point were to send Blevins out for a second frame, use rookie Aaron Barrett for a fourth consecutive day or turn to Ross Detwiler, who threw 45 pitches on Wednesday and has allowed 16 runs and 35 baserunners in his last 16 2/3 innings. As such, Williams admitted he felt he needed to stick with Blevins.
“You could go to Barrett four days in a row, but that’s dangerous,” Williams said.
A second inning probably wasn’t ideal for Blevins, either. The lefty had allowed a run on three hits in two-thirds of an inning on Thursday, throwing 18 pitches and taking a comebacker off his knee. He then used another 12 pitches during a 1-2-3 12th inning on Friday.
Blevins issued a leadoff walk to B.J. Upton, then gave up two consecutive hits and eventually two runs. Still, he didn’t offer any excuses.
“Everybody’s tired,” he said. “We’re in the 13th inning. Their guys have been going the whole time our guys have. Gotta step up, but I didn’t get the job done. Gave up a couple runs, didn’t get it done.”
Looking ahead, the bullpen could be in some trouble for the rest of the series if it needs to soak up significant innings. Blevins and Stammen both have worked on consecutive nights, while Clippard, Soriano and Barrett have pitched in three out of four. That leaves Storen and Detwiler as the freshest arms available, barring a roster move.
Follow Andrew Simon on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
By Andrew Simon
VIERA, Fla. — Wednesday was the Nationals’ second-to-last day of workouts before their Grapefruit League schedule begins on Friday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Here are some notes, observations and photos from the club’s Spring Training complex:
- Stephen Strasburg threw live batting practice to a group including Ryan Zimmerman, Tyler Moore and Adam LaRoche and had the catcher’s glove popping with each fastball.
- During batting practice, non-roster right-hander Clay Hensley accidentally drilled second baseman Anthony Rendon in the back with one of his offerings. He apologized profusely, and Rendon was able to laugh it off, even if he’ll likely be sporting a bruise by Thursday.
- Minor League righty Blake Treinen, coming off a strong season at Double-A Harrisburg, made a good impression while throwing to fellow prospects Steven Souza, Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin. The 25-year-old’s stuff, which manager Matt Williams called “electric,” prompted veteran catcher Koyie Hill to tell Treinen after his session that he’s going to strike it rich during his career.
- Williams also was impressed with reliever Drew Storen, especially the way he got good action down in the zone with his changeup, drawing some swings and misses.
Tomorrow: The Nats will have a lighter workout day on Thursday, something more like what they will have once games start. They also will be on the field at Space Coast Stadium instead of the complex’s back fields.
Looking ahead: The Nationals announced their lineup for Friday’s game, which will feature the debut of outfielder Nate McLouth. Taylor Jordan will get the start, with A.J. Cole, Christian Garcia, Xavier Cedeno, Manny Delcarmen, Aaron Barrett, Danny Rosenbaum and Tyler Robertson scheduled to follow.
Worth noting: Williams plans to have his veterans make plenty of road trips, including Friday’s, saying “there’s no getting around it,” considering how often the club must go long distances to face Grapefruit League opponents. Asked if that decision includes outfielder Jayson Werth, Williams answered, “It most certainly does.”
Worth quoting: “It’s nerve-racking because I’ve never been on this side of it, but at the same time it’s rewarding that we’ve gotten here and now we’re on the verge of starting games and having it ramp up a little bit and have it get a little bit faster for everyone. I’m looking forward to it.” — Williams, on experiencing his first Spring Training as a manager.
Further reading: Brock Peterson, in camp on a Minor League deal, is trying to author a better second chapter to his big league career after struggling following a long-awaited call-up with the Cardinals in 2013. Jordan is excited to make the first start of the spring.
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke to the local media at Saturday’s NatsFest and he acknowledged that the team had interest in reliever Grant Balfour, who recently signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays. Rizzo said Balfour wanted to be closer to home .
“We thought there was a value there. I think sleeping in his own bed and being near his home over road what we were trying to get for him,” Rizzo said.
Had the Nationals acquired Balfour, they most likely would have traded reliever Drew Storen, who said he was not bothered by the trade rumors this offseason.
“You don’t take it personally, it part of it. It’s flattering that other teams want you, too,” Storen said. “You look at it from all angles. [The Nationals] are a great team. Obviously, I don’t want to go anywhere. It’s just part of the business. Nothing new.”
Meanwhile Rizzo hasn’t ruled out acquiring a backup catcher. The Nationals are looking for someone who can fill just in case the starter, Wilson Ramos, misses a lot of time because of injury.
“If a backup catcher fits what we are trying to do and becomes available, we would certainly look into it,” Rizzo said.
The Nationals are looking for a guy who can drive in runs. As of now, Sandy Leon, Jhonatan Solano, Chris Snyder are battling for the backup role. All were not impressive in the batter’s box last year.
General manager Mike Rizzo spoke to the local media Saturday and talked about Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and the Nationals.
On why the Nationals sent Drew Storen to the Minors?
Rizzo: We felt that he was struggling, struggling with his mechanics, with his tempo with his delivery, with his arm slot, and we felt that we would do him better by letting him go down in a less stressful situation, work on his mechanics, get it fixed and get back up here and help us.
What Storen needs to do to get back to the Major Leagues?:
Rizzo: I think he needs to … I think it’s a mechanical situation to where he needs to revert back to where he was when we drafted him, where he was in ’11, but mechanically and tempo-wise and arm slot and everything, clear his mind, come back with a fresh, clear mind and be able to help us.
How did Storen take the news?
Rizzo: He took it hard like a lot of guys that have established themselves in the big leagues take it. I had a long conversation with him today and it was a very good conversation. I explained to him our rationale for it and that he’s a huge part of this organization and he’s going to be for a long time and just need to get him right. It’s very difficult, especially for a reliever, to tweak your delivery and get your delivery back in sync when you’re in a competitive situation at the big league level trying to win games. We feel that sending him down there, getting him in a less stressful situation, getting him with Spin Williams and Greg Booker, who’ve had him before, had him when he’s been extremely successful, I think it will benefit him.
“I think that he’s performed admirably in ’11, he hurt his arm in ’12 and had surgery. He was slow to recover from that and come back from that, and this year, I think that he was at a point where his arm was finally back to health and his mechanics went away from him. He has to get back to what made him successful – leveraging the baseball downhill, getting movement on his stuff and commanding the baseball much better. To me, the velocity is back to where it was pre-injury, pre-surgery, and now he needs to get back to the deliver, the tempo and the command of the stuff.
Did Rafael Soriano affect Storen mentally?
Rizzo: When you add a player like Rafael Soriano, we felt like we were strengthening a strength. We feel that we had a shutdown back-of-the-game bullpen that would shorten the games for our starters. We felt like that would give us great depth. All the things that we talked about at the beginning of the season. There’s been a lot of closers that started off as set-up guys and the case was we had three guys who had closer’s experience that we felt could finish off games and we felt the back-end of the bullpen was as good as anybody’s.
Please answer the question. Did it affect Storen mentally?
Rizzo: I don’t see the reason why it should’ve. He’s a mentally-strong person with good stuff and a guy that we’re getting an established closer with a great track record and we felt there was another guy that added depth and power to the end of the bullpen.
What was your reaction to Clippard’s comments?
Rizzo: I talked to Clip also, and we’ve got an open-door policy here. His opinion means a lot to me. I disagree with his assessment of the situation, but you fight to the death to let them speak their mind and say what they want. And that’s what makes these guys what they are on the mound. You’ve got to have a certain type of attitude and makeup to pitch in the latter-end of these games. They’re a competitive bunch, and the one thing I’ve never shied away from is when we have a discussion, we have it man-to-man, eye-to-eye, and I certainly can take his opinion. Like I said, I don’t agree with it, but I commend him for having a strong opinion on it.
Did you decide to send Storen down before the doubleheader?
Rizzo: We made it before. We knew we were going to have to make a roster move after the 26th man and we felt that with his struggles with his delivery and that type of thing, that we were going to give him this opportunity to go back to the minors and figure things out.
Are you looking for a starting pitcher before the deadline?
Rizzo: Well you know we’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls. I’m not going to go much more into it than that other than we’re going to do what we do at every trade deadline. We’re going to try to improve this ballclub for 2013 and beyond.
What are the areas of improvement?
Rizzo: You can just press your recorder on this, it’s the same assessment that we’ve had for the last month or so. We feel good about our core players and we feel that we’re solid at our position players, we like our rotation, we like our bullpen arms. If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack. But we’ve got ourselves a pretty talented group of guys that we’re committed to and we like where we’re at.
Is there more weight on next year or this year?
Rizzo: Well we’re going to stay consistent with the same thought process we’ve had since 2009. We’re always worried about this year and beyond. We never make decisions based on the current season alone, so that hasn’t changed since I’ve taken over as GM. We’re always thinking about this year, improving ourselves this year, but when we improve ourselves this year it will be this year and beyond.
On Taylor Jordan’s innings limit
Rizzo: Well, we’ve got parameters in mind for Taylor Jordan and when we feel that he’s done pitching, we’re going to shut him down.
Are you committed to all eight starting position players?
We’ve got a good core of position players, starting rotation and bullpen, and we’re committed to 25 guys right now. We’ve got a good, young core of players and we’re committed to them.
Are you planning any splashy moves?
Rizzo: I still feel the same way. Like I said, things haven’t changed since we spoke on the trade deadline last and things haven’t changed.
Why are the Nationals inconsistent?
Rizzo: We’re in the midst of trying to assess that. I think we still have two months to figure it out and we’ll assess it throughout the rest of the season and come up with a battle plan in the offseason to try and remedy that. We still have a lot of baseball left, and we’re looking forward to that and like I said, I still like this ballclub. I still believe in it.
What is your relationship with Davey Johnson?
Rizzo: I think it’s great. I love Davey and respect him, and I think he feels the same way.
On Ross Ohlendorf in the fifth spot of the rotation.
Rizzo: Yeah, he’s certainly an option for us in the rotation.
What the story on Christian Garcia?
Rizzo: Yeah, he’s rehabbing his hamstring injury.
Is Garcia out for a while?
Rizzo: Well, no. We’re planning on him being able to pitch sometime this year. I don’t know exactly where he’s at with his rehab, but certainly the hamstring set him back because he was just about ready to be activated off the DL.
Is there any chance Davey won’t be the manager by the end of the season?
Rizzo: There is no chance that he won’t be the manager until the end of the season.
What do you think of Randy Knorr?
Rizzo: Well Randy is a guy that I’ve had great respect for a long time. I think that he’s certainly a manager-caliber, he’s a manager candidate and he has a lot of manager capabilities and we love having him on the staff.
Will Knorr be considered the next manager?
Rizzo: He’s certainly a manager-caliber bench coach at this point.
What are the plans for Jordan in 2014?
Rizzo: Well I think he’s going to get every opportunity to be in the mix for the rotation next year, certainly. He’s pitched extremely well, I like his stuff, I like his demeanor on the mound, he shows poise of a major league pitcher and has the stuff for it.
Are you surprised by what Jordan has done in the big leagues?
Rizzo: No, I’m not surprised at all. We knew what we had with him, that’s why we got his feet wet in some major league spring training games this spring, and he was a guy we liked extremely a lot out of the draft and then of course got sidetracked by that injury.
By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter
The Nationals optioned Drew Storen to Triple-A Syracuse after Friday’s doubleheader, and Storen’s close friend — and former roommate — Tyler Clippard had some strong words on the move. Here’s what he said, in its entirety:
“It’s tough. I mean, he’s done a lot this year as far as he’s worked hard, tried to get out of this funk. It kind of snowballed on him there to get to this point. It’s just unfortunate. I think there’s a lot of things that led to this that could’ve been prevented. You know, you basically send a guy a message this offseason for having one bad game that he’s not the guy for the job. He’s only human, you know? I mean, it’s going to get to anybody. He hasn’t had to deal with a lot of adversity. He’s came up and had unbelievable stuff. He had success right away. Came in last year, coming off of a surgery, and pitched huge games for us in a 98 win season. Picked me up when I was struggling in September. Picked our team up in the playoffs. Had one bad game. You know, eight months later, you get to a point where he’s struggling and you turn the page on him, you know, you send him down. It’s not necessarily turning the page on him because I think he needs to go down and regroup, and get out of this environment, take a deep breath and regather himself. So I think it’s going to help him. I just think it’s been handled very poorly. And it could’ve gone either way. I know the same message was sent to me. And I’ve been through adversity in my career, you know? So I know how to handle it. So, you know, this is a tough day. He’s going to be part of this organization for a long time, I hope, because he’s good. And we need him. But if he goes somewhere else, he’s going to be great for them, you know? So it’s one of those things that I think was handled very poorly by the organization but at the same time, that’s the decision that was made and we have to move forward as a team. We have great guys in this locker room that are going to get it done. We’re going to make a playoff push at the end of the season, I have no doubt about that. But this is a tough day.”
Clippard, who was visibly emotional, was then asked why this move is so tough for him.
“It’s multiple reasons, yeah. Obviously me and Drew are close. We’re good friends. But at the end of the day, you’d like to think that there’s a human element involved in this whole thing and I think there was on both sides of it. I can understand, you know, after the devastation that happened last year, maybe trying to make a change and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to bring in somebody that we think can get it done in that big situation.’ It’s just the wrong message to send, I think. But at the end of the day, that’s what happened and that’s where we’re at. So it’s up to me, it’s up to Drew, it’s up to everyone in this locker room to kind of pick ourselves up and move forward. And that’s what we have to do, we have no choice. That’s what this game’s all about. So, this is part of it. There’s definitely human element involved in both sides of it and I can understand that.”
On Friday morning, Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced that reliever Drew Storen had the flu and needed to dramatically recover from the illness in order to play in the day-night doubleheader against the Mets.
But in the top of the ninth inning of the first game, Storen entered the game with one out in the ninth inning and was hit hard, allowing three runs in two-thirds of an inning during an 11-0 loss to New York. The biggest blow came when Ike Davis hit the first pitch for a three-run homer.
Why did Johnson bring in Storen even though he was sick?
“Well, he got to feeling a little better,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “Had to use him. Tried to get by with Ryan Mattheus, but [it] took him as many pitches as he could throw without taking a chance on hurting him. He had a new look, saw this new look. High leg-kick. Just left the ball up. That’s all.”
But according to two baseball sources, Storen was still under the weather when he entered the game in the ninth inning. Johnson informed the media that bullpen coach Jimmy Lett informed the skipper that Storen was feeling better.
“I know Drew is not feeling very well,” teammate Ryan Mattheus said. “That’s just tough, but I bet if you ask him, he would take the ball again. He is a tough kid. You have to commend him for going out there.”
Storen is having the worst year of his career. In 47 games, he is 3-2 with a 5.95 ERA. He was Washington’s closer until this offseason when the team acquired right-hander Rafael Soriano this offseason.
By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter
Lost in the Nationals’ 5-1 defeat against the Pirates on Tuesday night was news that reliever Ryan Mattheus, who has been out since May after breaking his hand while punching a locker, will in all likelihood return to the team on Friday, according to manager Davey Johnson.
The Nationals are allowed to add a 26th man to the roster for their doubleheader against the Mets, and Johnson said that it will be Mattheus. But what the team decides to do after the game will be far more interesting.
Johnson has finally reached a level of comfort with his bullpen. He has regularly praised left-handers Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, as well as long reliever Ross Ohlendorf. But when Mattheus returns, someone will have to go. Here are a few of the possibilities:
Taylor Jordan: After Tuesday night’s start, Johnson said that Jordan had earned a spot in the rotation. The 24-year-old is 0-3, but he has a 3.68 ERA through five starts and has improved every time out. The problem is that after undergoing Tommy John surgery in Sept. 2011, he is also on an innings-limit. General manager Mike Rizzo refused to specify how many innings Jordan has left, but the Nationals might decide to let him reach that limit at Double-A Harrisburg. They could then slide Ohlendorf into Jordan’s spot in the rotation while Ross Detwiler continues to rehab a stiff back.
Krol: Krol, like Jordan, has absolutely earned his spot on the big league club. He has allowed just four earned runs in 16 1/3 innings of work with a 2.20 ERA. But like Jordan, he is young (22 years old) and would not be distraught by a return trip to the Minors. Johnson loves having two lefties out of the ‘pen, but if for whatever reason he decides that he can make do with one, the Nationals might opt to demote Krol rather than risk losing 27-year-old Abad.
Drew Storen: This is the most unlikely option of them all, as 25-year-olds with closer experience are incredibly hard to find. But if Rizzo and Johnson decide that they want to add a left-handed bat off the bench before the July 31 trade deadline, Storen is one of the few movable pieces that could help them make that happen. He’s been rattled for much of this season, but he still has the upside and youth that make him a valuable bargaining chip.
By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter
After a pair of disappointing performances, the cheers for Nationals reliever Drew Storen started sounding less like “Drewwwwww” and more like “Boooooo.”
Storen gave up four runs in one inning on Tuesday against the Brewers and three runs — including two homers — on the Fourth of July. He looked like a shell of his former self, hanging breaking balls over the middle of the plate and ignoring pitching coach Steve McCatty on visits to the mound. His ERA increased to 5.40 from 3.82.
Then, with a one run lead against the Padres on Saturday, Storen retired the side with five pitches.
“That’s what I was talking about,” manager Davey Johnson said. “His stuff is too good. He doesn’t need to try to trick ‘em. He said, ‘Here’ and that was the highlight film of my day.”
Storen threw one pitch each to Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley, both of whom lined out to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Then Storen struck out Jesus Guzman with three pitches: two sinking fastballs and a slider.
“Anytime you can get it right to contact and get them to hit it right to guys, especially on a hot day, you can’t complain about that,” Storen said. “You knew you just had to attack guys in the zone. You sink it down in the zone. Hopefully those guys hit it on the ground and let our defense take care of it.”
Johnson and McCatty have noticed a change in Storen’s approach the season. The Nationals’ skipper has told his former close to stop throwing and start pitching, trust his fastball and attack hitters. After Saturday’s outing, Storen said that he got the message loud and clear.
“I thought he had a good point,” Storen said. “I’m trying to pitch around guys. I have good enough stuff. I just need to attack hitters and we have a great defense behind you. There’s no reason to be pitching around anybody.”