Filtering by Tag: Drew Storen

Nats Need to Find a Way to Win the Close Ones

The Nats overall are 8-4 in one run games and that might lead people tobelieve that they have done a good job of winning the close ones, and while they did end up winning yesterday, the way they went about it is not the path to success. Against Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner the Nationals scored a combined three runs. That by itself may not sound good and no one is denying that the Nats offense has been scuffling, but Matt Cain holds a career 3.35 ERA and is one of the best pitchers in the NL. Madison Bumgarner is a rising star and has been the Giants best starter this season and his career 3.17 ERA isn't too shabby either, and while they Nats struggled to score runs against Cain and Bumgarner the Giants scored a combined one run against Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. In other words, the Nats starters were just that much better.​

In both games the Nats entered the late innings with a one run lead and handed the ball to a bullpen that was believed to be one of the best in the NL and in both games the Nats bullpen blew it and forced the game into extra innings. The Nats ended up splitting these two games, but they should have won both of them. These games represent what playoff baseball is like. Whether it is Strasburg vs. Cain, Gio vs. Bumgarner or Strasburg vs. Cueto, Gio vs. Latos or Strasburg vs. Wainwright, Gio vs. Miller; if the Nats starters out-duel the other team’s top pitchers they have to win the game. This is how the Nats are ultimately going to win a World Series. While the lack of offense and ability to score runs is very alarming the more alarming aspect of these last two games was the Nats inability to close out games, and this isn't the first time it has happened this season.

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Revisiting the Rafael Soriano Signing

When the Nats signed Rafael Soriano it was met with mixed reaction. Statsdon't back up the need for a lock down closer. When leading heading into the ninth baseball teams have a greater than a 90% chance to win that game, and that is right around where the Nationals have been this season. The current MLB average win percentage with a lead heading into the ninth is 94.9% and the Nationals are at 94.7%. That misses quite a bit of the nuisances of the Nationals bullpen this season and why even as an overpay paying for the marginal wins Soriano has provided was worth it. ​

Imagine the Nats bullpen without Soriano. Think back to Game 5 and who it was standing on the mound and Descalso first tied the game and Pete Kozma drove in the go ahead runs. Think about the image of Drew Storen sitting in front of his locker staring in horror at the ground. Now fast forward to 2013 and look at Clippard and Storen. Neither pitcher is pitching like they have in the past. Clippard is walking an astronomically high 6.8 per nine and Storen is giving up a too high for a reliever 1.5 HR/9. Both have struggled at times and in his one chance to close out a ball game Storen blew it. No one has made a big deal of the mild struggles of Storen and Clippard, but imagine if the Nats didn't have Soriano. Imagine all the columns being written with the focus being on Game 5 and the mental state of Drew Storen. All the columns on if Storen truly has a closer's mentality and all that other nonsense.

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Storen's Deep Thoughts and Detwiler's Change-Up

There is still not much going onaround Natstown along the slow crawl to the Spring Training finish line. The two biggest bits of news from this weekend have to do with Drew Storen thinking too much on the mound as Davey Johnson said and Ross Detwiler talking about adding a change-up. The first part about Storen can be addressed quickly and easily. It is Spring Training. Now is the time to be thinking on the mound. This is practice. Now is the time for pitchers to be working on stuff and trying to figure out new grips, new pitches, and new ways to get batters out. When the season rolls around that is the time to throw what the catcher puts down.

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The Nats Final Off-Season Issue

This is the time of the off-season where teams sign players and make moves few hear about, and if they do they aren't expected to have much of an impact. Now is the time of the January free agent. Sure, there are guys like LaRoche, Lohse, Soriano, and Bourn still on the market, but they are not the typical January free agent. The January free agent is that guy looking for a minor league deal and invite to Spring Training. He is the guy hoping to get one more shot to wear the uniform and play in the big leagues. 

The Nats don't need a lot of these types of players, but they may benefit from a couple. As it stand right now there are two spots up for grabs on the Nats 25 man roster. The rotation, line-up, and bench are set. The only real question is if it will be LaRoche or Morse manning first in 2013, but that has no impact on the two spots the Nats have open. The Nats need a sixth and seventh man in the bullpen. They have a number of internal options and if they decide to forgo the Christian Garcia as a starter experiment then suddenly there is one less spot in the bullpen.

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How Does Drew Storen Respond

I have not talked to a single Nats fan who is mad at Drew Storen. I believe most of us saw the picture of him slumped over, dejected, staring into darkness at his locker after blowing the save and the game in the final game of the Nats NLDS series against the Cardinals. Interesting fact about Drew Storen that was the first time since September 19, 2010 that Storen entered the ninth inning with the Nats having the lead and the inning ended with them down. 

That game on September 19 is the one in which Storen's now teammate Jayson Werth hit a walk-off homer off of Storen. Storen responded in Spring Training by throwing at Werth during live BP. Drew Storen is hard on himself, but he isn't one to let a situation consume him. There were 118 games Storen appeared in between the Werth walk-off and the Game 5 disaster. Drew Storen didn't enter the ninth inning ahead in all those games, but that is still a lot of appearances for a closer to make without blowing a game. 

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Clippard's Closing, Not A Bad Plan A

Much has been ado about the last two outings of current Nationals closer, Tyler Clippard, and his propensity for ladling up the late inning long ball, lunch lady style. Put into the role during Drew Storen’s extended stay on the DL, the bespectacled wonder has done an admirable job as the fill-in while Storen has rehabbed a bum elbow for nearly all of 2012. The return of the ‘other’ 1st round draft pick of the Nats in 2009 has Twitter a-twitter over who will man the 9th for the first place Nats. Will the overall success of Clippard in the closer role be enough to convince manager Davey Johnson to stay put with Clip, or will having Storen back on the roster mark the return of Clip to 8th inning set up duties, where his dominance of that inning was worthy of a 2011 All-Star selection?
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