It’s been a bit of a rough year for Drew Storen.
Elbow surgery wiped out the entire first half of his season and forced him through a lengthy and trying rehab process. When he did come back, his closer job had been taken by his good friend and roommate, Tyler Clippard.
You won’t hear Storen complain about what he’s been through or the situation that he’s currently in. He’d love to be closing games, sure, but he’s more than happy contributing to a winning Nationals team and being one of the key factors in late-inning situations.
But manager Davey Johnson still understood what it meant for Storen to be the guy to close out last night’s playoff-clinching win.
“Now that we’ve clinched a berth in the playoffs, I think it was only fitting with the guy that carried the load last year with 43 saves, that it would fall on him,” Johnson said. “I know it meant a lot to him because it’s been a rough year for him, not closing. That was kind of a fairytale ending, that part.”
Storen claimed he didn’t have locking up a playoff spot on his mind when he was on the mound, saying he was merely focused on the three tough hitters he had to face. But he acknowledged that, in retrospect, he was glad he was able to close things out last night and be able to put the final touches on the clinching win.
“Oh, yeah. This is an incredible moment,” he said. “At the same time, it’s just one step in the process. But it’s nice. Especially with the long year that I’ve had. It’s nice to be out there in those situations.”
After a bit of an ease-in period after returning from surgery, Storen has shown lately that he’s back to his old self. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last 10 outings, giving up just five hits and putting up an 11-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio in that time.
As for how Storen performed last night, guys could only shake their heads and chuckle when asked about it.
“Yeah his stuff was pretty good,” Johnson said with a laugh.
Storen struck out the side in the ninth, blowing away not just any three hitters, but the Dodgers’ trio of Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, probably one of the most dangerous 3-4-5 combinations in any lineup in baseball.
He got Kemp looking at a 95 mph sinker on the outer part of the plate leading off the inning, set down Gonzalez with a filthy 90 mph changeup after showing him three straight sinkers and then sent Ramirez back to the dugout after just three pitches, all sliders.
As Bryce Harper ran in from center field to celebrate with his teammates, he had a quick word with right fielder Jayson Werth.
“Storen is unbelievable,” Harper said.