Saves Could Be In Store(n)

Everyone knew that the Nationals were going to promote a 2009 first round pick to help their big league pitching staff before long, but everyone assumed it would be Stephen Strasburg. Turns out that he got beat to the punch by Drew Storen, a reliever from Stanford taken tenth overall last year, when Washington summoned the righty in time for Monday’s game. The Nats were so excited to bring him up that they promoted him while he was in the middle of a Triple-A relief appearance.

Nats’ pitching coach Steve McCatty said the team will “ease” Storen into action, which is as cliche as it comes. Every team says that about every rookie ever. Naturally, Storen made his big league debut last night, coming into the 7th inning of a two run game with one out, a man on first and the Cardinals’ top of the order due up. Easing him right into it, I’d say. He escaped the inning by getting Felipe Lopez to fly out to foul territory and striking out Matt Holliday (with a HBP of Ryan Ludwick sandwiched in between).

Storen’s minor league track record is stellar yet limited, featuring a 64/11 K/BB ratio with close to a 40% ground ball rate in 53.2 innings. Baseball America touts him as being aggressive in the zone with a 92-94 mph fastball, a hard slider, and a hard curveball, which makes you a) wonder if the Nats at least considered making him a starter, and b) think he should be better than your store brand middle reliever.

Matt Capps has done a very nice job in the closer’s role so far (3.69 xFIP, 14 for 14 in save opps), and Tyler Clippard (4.24 xFIP) seems to have a lock on the setup job despite allowing 12 of 22 inherited runners to score and leading the league with five blown saves. So at best, Storen is third in line for save opportunities in the nation’s capitol.

Things can change, of course, and with relievers they tend to do. If the Nats are unable to stay in contention throughout the summer (two games back of Wild Card at the moment), Capps could find his way onto the trade block, and the general volatility to relievers could bump Clippard down in the pecking order. As we’ve seen with guys like Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, and Neftali Feliz, teams will not hesitate to throw a young pitcher into high leverage situations if he’s the best option.

It’s no secret that Storen is the team’s closer of the future, but the future is not here just yet. There’s still a few hurdles to clear. Very few setup men are worth a roster spot in a standard 5×5, 12-team league, and there’s no reason to assume Storen is one of those guys until he gets some more appearances under his belt. If you’re in a deep keeper league or you count holds, then by all means grab him. I expect him to take over the 7th inning/fireman role in relatively short order. Storen is available in basically every league now, but if you’re looking for saves, hold off for a while.

Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

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D Tickle
12 years ago

Who is the better RP moving forward in a keeper league? Ryan Perry or Drew Storen? Its a 10 team 30 man roster 6×6 roto keeper and we count HLDs. Unfortunately I’m last in the league in HLDs but still in 1st place overall