“Change of scenery” tag, meet Drew Storen.
Maybe it’s sheer coincidence that just seem to fit the narrative of his memorable playoff implosion from last season, but you know, the Washington Nationals reliever sure picked a pretty bad time to have a down year.
Carrying an un-Storen-like 5.40/1.46 ERA/WHIP on the season after his latest implosion on Wednesday — this one of the three-run variety over 0.2 IP — you might even say that he’s more or less pitched himself off the team. It’s quite the swift fall for the Nats’ former shutdown closer, who’d seemingly been destined for that role since before he was called up in 2010, and who ran away with it with a 43-save season in 2011.
That, however, is the life for relievers in the bigs; top of the world one year, trade candidate the next — and with the trade deadline looming, there’s little doubt that the 25-year-old is more of the latter.
After all, it’s not as though this developed out of the blue. The Nationals had discussed trading him once before for Denard Span, and they were more than clear about his future with the club when they went ahead and signed Rafael Soriano to be the ninth-inning man prior to the 2013 season. Simply put, Storen wasn’t going to be the man.
The most disappointing part of the whole story? The right-hander didn’t even give the team a good reason to have any second thoughts about it.
Though it looked like he might have finally returned to form with a strong June (2.70/1.00 ERA/WHIP over 10 IP), July has been a different story, with Storen being victimized in three major multi-run implosions over his last 11 outings (seven of them scoreless). That’s simply not consistent enough for him to be considered late-inning material, let alone an eventual return to the closer’s chair.
It’s not to say he’s totally ‘done’, however … even though his future with the Nationals is fairly bleak.
Baseball logic says that you never count out a 25-year-old, and though it might not seem like it this season, Storen’s name should still carry a fairly significant cache on the trade market (once a closer, always a closer — just as Kevin Gregg). Should the Nats decide to make him available (and they could even if they’re not sellers), teams like the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates will surely come calling.
Will a change of scenery revitalize Storen’s career?
Well, actually, with a strong 9.29 K/9 to a 2.81 BB/9 and a career-best 15.6 percent line drive rate, the .341 BABIP and 63.4 percent strand rate he owns this year says that maybe, all he needs is a little bit less meddling from the baseball gods to return to his dominant form; and if getting out of Washington will make that happen, why not?
It’s not like the team needs more bad luck charms anyway.