He was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle. Even though Drew Storen had come off of a career year, the Nats wanted insurance. So, they gave Soriano the closer role instead of Drew Storen based on veteran experience and coolness under pressure after Storen blew a two run lead in the fifth game of the NLDS.
But, on the heels of what may soon be considered the franchise’s most successful stretch of all time, one problem has persisted. In fact, the problem created the record. Rafael Soriano was that problem. In his past twelve save opportunities, Rafael Soriano has given up one run or more in seven of them. He owns a 6.98 E.R.A. since the All-Star Break, and his FIP, which takes out all possible lucky or unlucky factors is 3.16, which compared to Craig Kimbrel, is more than 1.5 points higher. These numbers are unacceptable for a closer in general, but a closer on a postseason team especially. After giving up three runs and two home runs on Friday night, it looks like Soriano’s stint as closer may be over, especially since the Nats can’t afford meltdowns like that on a consistent basis when they reach the postseason.
And while the rest of D.C. wonders who will replace him, whether it will be new but lights out reliever Matt Thornton or long-time setup man, Tyler Clippard, the choice is actually obvious. The only pitcher in the bullpen who has postseason experience as a closer under pressure, been consistent all season and has closing experience is Drew Storen. It seemed to be a given after last year that the Nationals would let Soriano go, and Storen would return to his old spot. But now that Soriano is in a downwards spiral, there is no better time to prepare Drew Storen for the future than now. If he was given the role down the stretch, he would get experience under the pressure that September brings and would be prepared for the postseason. If the Nats are expected to make postseason runs for years to come, wouldn’t Drew Storen, the once and future closer be the right one to put in the driver’s seat if the pitcher they brought in to perform in these types of situations can’t perform the tasks?
While many people are not sure of him, due to his rocky 2013 performance, it’s actually quite easy to explain.
“‘You basically send a guy a message this offseason, for having one bad game, that he’s not the guy for the job,'”Said Drew Storen’s friend and bullpen partner, Tyler Clippard. “‘He’s only human. I mean, it’s going to get to anybody. Eight months later, you get to a point where he’s struggling, and you turn the page on him and you send him down. I just think it’s been handled very poorly.'”
Storen in all likelihood would be more than happy to take his old job back. On closing, he has said “That’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do, and that’s what I want to do.”