Have The Washington Nationals Mistreated Drew Storen?

By Nick Comando
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals took Drew Storen with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft, the same draft where they took Stephen Strasburg. He was a compensation pick due to Washington’s inability to sign their 2008 draft pick Aaron Crow, and though Strasburg would get all the fanfare, many believed Storen would be in the big leagues before Strasburg. This proved to be true, as Storen made his major league debut just under a month before Strasburg did in 2010, and Storen would pitch to a 3.58 ERA in his rookie season and follow that up with a 43 save in 48 chance 2011. Storen had surgery following that season to remove loose bodies from his elbow, and would not start his season until July 19, 2012.

Upon his return, Storen pitched very well, though not in the closer’s role, going 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 37 games, allowing 22 hits in 30.1 innings pitched and striking out 24 to only eight walks, as well as saving four games and finishing seventeen others. Sadly, it was what transpired during the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals that will seemingly forever plague Storen. After not allowing an earned run in his first three postseason appearances, Storen came into the ninth inning of Game 5, and as we know, everything unraveled. Storen would allow four excruciating earned runs and turn a 7-5 Washington lead into a 9-7 deficit going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Washington would lose, and Storen would, sadly, be attacked by fans on social media, as well as suffer through an agonizing offseason that saw Washington sign Rafael Soriano.

After these events, the Nationals still entered 2013 as the favorites to win the World Series. They had a fantastic rotation that would be at full strength all year, an even better bullpen, and would have the motivation of trying to have Davey Johnson‘s swan song season end on a high note. Sadly, as we all know, that was not the case, for Storen or for the Nationals. Storen would suffer through a very rough year, being demoted mid-season and finishing with his highest career ERA since his rookie season, at 4.52. Now, this winter, there has been word that the Nationals would like to trade Storen, mostly because him and Tyler Clippard are becoming expensive bullpen pieces. Many also believe that with all the bullpen turnover, a change of scenery could do wonders for Storen.

At this point in Storen’s tenure with Washington, would it be fair to ask if Storen has been mistreated by the Nationals?

Yes, it would. Not to say that one 47 save season makes Storen an untouchable, but no player should ever lose their position to injury, and that is exactly what happened to Storen. He was Washington’s closer, got hurt, and the job was handed to someone else. It was only when Clippard began to fade at the end of the 2012 season that  Storen began closing games again. It also is really telling that after Storen’s strong season, which was followed by a solid, though injury-shortened one, combined with a disappointing ending, that the Nationals felt the need to bring in another closer, one with the mildly overrated playoff experience, as well as being known as not the best of teammates. For Washington to lose so much faith so quickly in Storen is alarming.

Storen is also not entirely to blame for the Game 5 loss, if at all. It was really more Washington’s sporadic offense that caused the loss, since insurance runs were really never added after a crooked number was put up early on. If Washington had kept their proverbial foot on the gas, there probably wouldn’t have been a ninth inning meltdown from Storen, or it at least would have been easier to absorb, as the game could have been tied.

Regardless, it is becoming increasingly more and more obvious that Storen has gotten a raw deal from Washington, and that is saddening.

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