A Whole New Drew
One of the under-the-radar stories during the first seven games of the Nationals road trip has been the reemergence of Drew Storen as a successful member of the Washington bullpen. The 26-year-old right-hander has been nearly unhittable since returning from Triple-A Syracuse on August 16, allowing just one hit and no walks in five scoreless innings, while striking out six batters.
Storen said his resurgence has been sparked by a return to his former delivery, one that helped him earn 43 saves during the 2011 season.
“It feels good to get back to what I’ve always done, to pitch more athletically,” he said. “I’m throwing strikes and I feel like I’m getting on top of the baseball.”
Despite the tough reality of going down to the Minor Leagues, Storen stayed positive and focused on his pitching motion rather than his demotion.
“I treated it like a rehab assignment,” he explained. “I went down there and made it just about getting reps and building muscle memory with my mechanics.”
The return to form has given a lift to manager Davey Johnson’s bullpen, a unit that has been taxed of late thanks to a 15-inning win against the Braves on August 17 and a 13-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs on August 22, all without a break in the schedule.
Storen has found himself in the middle of each of those two victories, posting a perfect, three-strikeout inning in the Atlanta contest and earning his third save of the season with a strong 13th inning in Chicago. Should the Nationals need a closer in Friday night’s contest in Kansas City, Johnson won’t hesitate to call upon Storen, with regular closer Rafael Soriano scheduled to rest after pitching each of the previous three games.
“I think (Drew) made a lot of good adjustments, and he’s making more quality pitches,” Johnson said prior to Friday’s game. “If we get a lead, he’ll be closing this one out tonight. I’m happy with where he’s at, and I know he’s happy.”