A former first-round pick and a core piece of the Nationals, Drew Storen has since been traded and is on the verge of being out of baseball altogether.
Earlier in the week, we explored former Nats and dove into where they are now. We started with Ross Detwiler and next up is Drew Storen.
For the 2009 draft, the Nationals were awarded a compensation pick in the first round due to the team’s first-round pick from 2008, Aaron Crow not signing with the team. In hindsight, Mike Trout should have been the pick because he was still on the board, but instead, with the 10th pick, Washington selected reliever, Drew Storen. Storen made a name for himself in high school and built on his success while playing at Stanford.
The team’s future closer quickly worked his way through the minor league system and made his MLB debut on May 17, 2010. Through 55 1/3 innings, Storen flashed his potential, finishing 4-4, with a 3.58 ERA, and 55 strikeouts, while going five for seven in save opportunities. It wasn’t till the next season that Storen took over as the team’s closers. Across 75 1/3 innings, Storen went 6-3, with a 2.75 ERA, and 74 strikeouts, while going 43 for 48 in save opportunities. His 43 saves were a career-high and were the second most in Nationals history since Chad Cordero posted 47 in 2005. It was no coincidence that Storen’s breakout season coincided with the Nats finishing with 80 plus wins for the first time since 2005.
Before the start of the 2012 season, Storen underwent surgery to have bone chips removed from his elbow. In turn, Storen didn’t make his season debut till the middle of July. After returning, Storen helped the Nats win their first division title since moving from Montreal. Entering the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 5 with the Nats up 7-5, Storen came in to close out the game. He recorded two quick outs before being one strike away from moving on. That is when disaster struck. Storen allowed four runs and the Nats lost 9-7.
Storen’s 2012 playoff meltdown had a serious effect on his career and it seemed he was never able to recover from it. Rafael Soriano was brought in to be the team’s new closer and while the front office claimed it wasn’t because of Storen’s meltdown, many didn’t believe them. After having a terrible 2013 season, Storen posted the best year of his career in 2014. Through 56 1/3 innings, he went 2-1. with a 1.12 ERA, and 46 strikeouts, with a 2.71 FIP. He went 11 for 14 in save opportunities and looked like he put 2012 behind him. Unfortunately in the 2014 NLDS against the Giants, Storen once again fell apart. In the ninth inning of Game 2, Storen came in with a runner on first and two outs, up 1-0. He immediately allowed a single and an RBI double which tied the game at one. The Nats went on to lose in the 18th inning.
During the 2015 season, the Nationals once again went out looking for another closer and acquired Jonathan Papelbon at the Trade Deadline. The Papelbon trade had a negative effect on Storen’s mindset and he quickly started to implode. After Papelbon joined the team, Storen went 0-2, with a 9.22 ERA. After allowing a homer against the Mets, Storen slammed his fist on a locker in disgust and as a result, he ended up breaking his thumb which ended his season.
Before the start of the 2016 season, Storen was shipped out to Toronto where he was given a chance to rebuild himself with a change of scenery. Unfortunately, Storen was DFA’ed after posting a 6.21 ERA through 33 1/3 innings. Storen was then traded to the Mariners where he finished the year strong. In 19 games with the Mariners, Storen went 3-0, with a 3.44 ERA, and 2.76 FIP. After a limited resurgence in Seattle, Storen signed with the Reds for the 2017 season. With the Reds, Storen threw the first immaculate inning of his career which came against the Orioles. On September 17, it was announced Storen was undergoing Tommy John Surgery and would miss the rest of the season. Through 58 appearances, he had a modest 4.45 ERA, with 48 strikeouts. After missing all of the 2018 season due to recovering from his injury, Storen started to bounce between different team’s minor league systems. First, he signed a minor-league deal with the Royals to start the 2019 season, but the team released him in the middle of July. He then signed a minor league deal with the Phillies for the 2020 season but was let go on June 28. As of now, Storen is a free agent and may never pitch in the majors again.
Storen’s multiple playoff collapses took its toll on the once elite reliever.