May 30, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielderBilly Hamilton
hits a two-run single off Washington Nationals relief pitcherCasey Janssen
in the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 8-5. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Drew Storen Should Have Pitched The Eighth Inning
The Reds had the heart of their order coming to bat in the eighth inning. This is where the game was going to be won or lost for the Nationals. Whoever pitched the eighth inning was going to have to cut through Joey Votto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce–any one of whom are capable of hitting a home run any time they are at the plate.
No, it technically wasn’t a save situation yet. It wasn’t the ninth inning. Bu, if the Nats didn’t shut down three dangerous hitters, there was going to be no save situation for which to hold Storen in reserve for.
Storen was the only pitcher left in the bullpen that should have been trusted to get the Nationals through that tough lineup and high leverage situation.
You can disagree that Storen should have pitched the eighth. What can’t be disagreed with is that you can’t send a reliever out to pitch against Votto, Frazier and Bruce with a fastball that tops out at 86 mph and who has only made three appearances thus far this year.
Once you make that decision, after Janssen allows a double that would have been a home run except for Denard Span’s amazing play to throw the ball back onto the field after it was over the fence and then walks the next batter, he needed to come out. Janssen clearly had no stuff today. Once that became apparent, he should have been removed while the Nats were ahead and Storen brought in to try to get the five out save or just get the Nats out of the eighth with limited or no damage. Instead, Janssen was left out there to give up four runs.
Storen can and has pitched more than one inning in the past. If you didn’t want to push Storen to pitch part of the eighth and the ninth, both Matt Grace and Aaron Barrett were available to pitch the ninth.
Without a reliable eighth inning guy, Williams needs to consider who is coming up in the eighth and whether or not Storen should be used for more than three outs in a game. He should not be rigidly locked into the idea that Storen is only available to get a save in the ninth. Sometimes, the “save situation” can occur in the eighth inning.
Until Janssen proves himself, he should not be anointed the eighth inning guy. He needs to earn that role. He didn’t do anything for his case today.