Maybe it's a trait of every Stanford Man, but Nationals reliever Drew Storen is as analytical as pitchers come about his delivery. He'd incorporated a straight leg kick in the Arizona Fall League and into spring training, believing he could use it to improve his delivery time to the plate and hold runners more effectively.
And Storen's results in the minors were obviously fine; he had a 1.08 ERA and a 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.
But after watching some video the last two days, Storen has ditched the straight leg kick for a more flexed leg position, also moving his hands to make sure he wasn't tipping pitches. Minor tweaks, yes, but Storen believes they'll give his fastball more bite and help him be even more effective.
"I realized I wasn't getting as much power as I should have," Storen said. "It's just adding a little more of a leg kick, trying to be more athletic instead of just stiff."
Storen said he'll routinely watch video to give his delivery a kind of check-up, though he's obviously got access to more of it in the majors than he had in the minors or in college. He said over the course of a season, a series of little adjustments or bad habits can add up to a big change without a reliever even realizing it.
He checked some video of his first two outings, got pitching coach Steve McCatty's blessing to make the change and switched his delivery during last night's loss to the Orioles. Even though Storen gave up his first major-league run, he said he felt more controlled on the mound than he has in some time.
"I think I was losing some of my stuff. I felt like I was starting to swing a little bit more," Storen said. "If you look at my first couple outings, everything I was throwing was kind of middle-in, because I was going arm side and kind of flying open. When I was doing a straight leg, it kind of caused me to fly open, so that's the adjustment I made."