Thursday, August 15, 2013

Storen recalled, Mattheus to AAA

USA Today Sports Images
[Updated 3:48 p.m.]

By Mark Zuckerman and Chase Hughes

Desperately in need of some late-inning relief help, the Nationals today recalled Drew Storen from Class AAA, optioning struggling right-hander Ryan Mattheus to Syracuse.

Storen, who had been demoted only three weeks ago, returned to Washington this morning and is available to pitch in this afternoon's series finale against the Giants.

Storen was sick with the flu the last game he pitched for the Nats and said he took a few days to recuperate before heading to Syracuse. Those days of rest helped the news set in and Storen emerge with a more positive outlook on the experience. 

"It was sort of a forced relaxation, so it took a couple days to go down there and like I said, worrying about all that other stuff that you can’t control and what’s already happened won’t do you any good, so you got to make the most of any situation. I had a good opportunity to get better and get back to being myself and it’d be stupid of me to waste it. So that’s how I look at it.

Storen now returns looking for a fresh start and an opportunity to help his team salvage their season. He called the feeling of being demoted compared with this recent call-up as "polar opposites."

"I’m pretty damn happy about it, to be honest with you," he said. "The way I look at it, in general with this whole year, this is kind of like Opening Day for me right now. It’s like five weeks or six weeks left, whatever it is, of the regular season, and just help these guys win and really get after it. I can’t really control or change what’s happened this year, but one thing I can do is really be productive at the end and help these guys win. So I’m excited to get back."

The Nationals didn't intend to bring Storen back so soon, preferring the right-hander spent more time in Syracuse as part of an overhaul of both his mechanics and his mental approach. But with the big-league bullpen struggling mightily right now in spite of the club's five-game winning streak, general manager Mike Rizzo made the decision to bolster his relief corps with the only available option he had with a proven track record.

Storen has now adjusted his motion to bring his leg higher as he steps towards the plate. He had unique move where he dragged his left leg and that has been done away with. Storen said the transition was rather easy because the new one is similar to how he tossed during warmups anyways. 

He also began his stint in Syracuse going with a full windup altogether to ease into the new motion.

"I started at first throwing with a windup just to get a feel for the rhythm of a leg kick and I guess just getting the flow of everything down. But I knew I’d just go out of the stretch to keep things simple," he said. "It’s what I’d been doing for years before anyways, so it’s just getting back to what made me successful."

Storen thinks the new motion could make the difference as he started to see the results this past week in Syracuse. 

"I think it was definitely mechanics. It was good to get back to throwing athletically and not having to think about it so much. I was getting to the point where I was thinking a little bit too much about what I needed to do mechanically instead of just lifting and throwing and throwing strikes and attacking the hitters. So it was good to make that adjustment and I’m ready to go."

The experience also helped Storen realize how great his support system is. Not just with teammates, but his friends and family. He was touched with all those who reached out to help him through the demotion.

"It’s easy for people to support you when things are going well, but when you really get tested and things don’t go as planned, that’s when you really see. I’ve been very fortunate to have friends and family that have supported me through everything. Including teammates, too. That’s definitely been the silver lining of the thing."

One of Storen's teammates in particular, Tyler Clippard, was vocal in his disagreement with the team sending Storen down. He was critical of the organization in how they handled the situation and Storen is thankful for Clippard having the guts to actually say what he did.

"It meant a lot to me," Storen said. "What he said, regardless of what you think of the comments, just for him to stand up for me like that really means a lot and shows you what a great friend and even better teammate he is. It takes a lot."

Manager Davey Johnson is glad to have Storen back and plans to use him in late innings relief situations, just like he has the last few years.

"He needed a change of scenery just to get back to being Drew," Johnson said. 

Storen was sent down three weeks ago after posting a 5.95 ERA in 47 games, a move made to clear space in the big-league bullpen for Mattheus, who was returning from a broken hand. Storen struggled in his first three outings in the minors, giving up four earned runs on seven hits, but he bounced back to toss three consecutive scoreless games without putting a runner on base.

Mattheus struggled mightily upon his return from the DL, putting 18 men on base in only 6 2/3 innings. He faced six batters over the last two nights and retired only one.

Johnson needed somebody more reliable with the games meaning more and more, as the Nats continue clinging to hopes of a NL Wild Card berth.

"For us to win a bunch of games I needed that late inning stopper. Mattheus since coming back, his command and his pitches haven’t been as sharp as they were prior to slamming that locker. For an immediate need, we need somebody who at least knows he can do it," he said.

Storen says that after going down to Triple-A, he is now much more appreciative of the opportunity to play in the major leagues. He thinks being sent down could be beneficial for him moving forward, but also acknowledges there's only one way to find out.

"That’s what I’m going to show you right here."


PChuck said...

Pick your poison.

M.E.P said...

Did he change his mechanics at all Mark? I'm interested to see if he has gone back to the leg kick or he stuck with the stiff leg and toe point slide step thing.

I really like the idea of him going to a leg kick as it will make his slide step more deceptive when runners are on. A true stretch vs. windup.

Doc said...

Well speakin' of the devil!

Welcome back Stor!!!!!

Hey kid, it's 2011 deja vue all over again, when you saved 43 big ones!!!!

GooooooooooDrew!!!! GoooooooooooNats!!!!!!!!!

BigCat said...

They should ship Abad out as well. He's been liquid propane as of late.

I'm glad for Drew. I hope he's got his sh#t together.

BigCat said...

Soriano should stop with that "untucking" nonsense. He's been getting ripped lately. His closing days are numbered. Personally, I'd move Clip to closer and put Drew in the 2 spot.

Unknown said...

Fully agree with BigCat. And welcome back to Drew. I hope he's back for good.

natsfan1a said...

Welcome back to Druuu.

NatsLady said...

M.E.P. yes, he changed his mechanics, I saw from watching video from Syracuse games. I didn't realize a pitcher could change so quickly.

MicheleS said...

yea DRUUUUU!!! glad he is back.

NatsLady said...

I'm going to say it again. Soriano hasn't been getting "ripped" lately. Prior to last night he had six scoreless appearances, with 2 hits, 1 walk. (I agree on the untuck, which I'm not fond of, but he's been effective.)

Tcostant said...

Wow 18 men on base in only 6 2/3 innings. I knew he wasn't pitching well, but didn't realize it was that bad.

Hope Storen pitches well. I hope.

Theophilus T. S. said...

As I said elsewhere, "Desperation; spin."

Donald said...

@NatsLady -- it sounded like Storen was reverting to his old mechanics. Could you tell? If that's the case, it would probably be an easier change for him then trying to go to a whole new delivery.

waddu eye no said...

on my way to my first game this year. anyone around? don't know where i'm sitting yet (freebies)


Candide said...

Hope Storen doesn't pitch today because Haren has a two-hit shutout going into the top of the ninth and the Nats are leading by two touchdowns and a field goal.

MikeinDC said...

Thank G-D, I was wondering if Storen was the new Lannan, in Rizzo's permanent doghouse. I'll be cheering extra loud if he gets a shot today. Welcome back!

Candide said...

waddu - I'm going to be in section 224, but will be hanging out at the picnic tables until a couple of minutes before first pitch. Blue Nats Jersey, red curly W cap, and a burgundy backpack. We're looking for MicheleS to be there, too, but she won't be there until at least 3:00 pm.

Candide said...

Forgot to mention - leaving for the park now.

ChiefWJ said...

Storen in Syracuse (if I'm reading correctly):

vs RH batters: 12 batters faced. 1 H, 0 BB, 8 K

vs LH batters: 14 batters faced. 6 H 0 BB, 3 K

Small sample, but I think we have some idea of how he might be used.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

I said if Storen's correction this was the.move.

Now Mattheus go work on your mechanics so you can help in September.

NatsLady said...

Donald, I don't know what his old mechanics were. Currently, he is using a windup that looks pretty standard with a high kick.

NatsLady said...

Byron Kerr ‏@masnKerr 8m
Davey says he would use up his 3 challenges by 5th inn. There are bang bang plays all the time.

NatsLady said...

Of course, you wonder where Davey will be using those challenges in 2014.

David Wright with a clever take. Do you get an extra out if your challenges are successful?

UNTERP said...

NatsLady said...

Byron Kerr ‏@masnKerr 8m
Davey says he would use up his 3 challenges by 5th inn. There are bang bang plays all the time.

From my understanding, Davey wouldn't be able to use up his three challenges before the 7th inning. My understanding is that the Manager will get one challenge 1-6 innings and 2 challenges 7-until...

Get Your Re(n)d On said...

Tell Wright that a successful challenge is always going to result in an extra out. Because if Wright thinks a manager should be challenging a safe call, then he's probably not manager material.

Nats106 said...

ChiefWJ said...
Storen in Syracuse (if I'm reading correctly):

vs RH batters: 12 batters faced. 1 H, 0 BB, 8 K

vs LH batters: 14 batters faced. 6 H 0 BB, 3 K

Small sample, but I think we have some idea of how he might be used.

Good info-let's hope that's how he is used.

Welcome back Drew-we're all are pulling for you!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Davey's public comments about Mattheus in the post-game presser said a lot about what could happen. That was a real "no confidence" vote.

Good for Storen and he needs to show he can do it. Clippard's vote of confidence was warm and fuzzy but in the end this is about getting the job done.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Glad to hear about the instant replay. This is almost exactly what I proposed several weeks ago.

What I like is taking any bias out of the game. I hope the challenge can be done on a ball/strike call as there are those critical calls that can change a game.

I think UnTerp had most of the details correctly.

JD said...


I like more replay potential but I don't like the challenge idea because what if the umps make 3 bad calls before the 6th inning? or a really bad game deciding call after the call after the challenges have been exhausted?

I like how they do it in hockey. When there is a questionable cal it is automatically reviewed in a central location. The key is that it's quick and just about 100% accurate. Who can complain about that?

JD said...

I think that the bullpen was terribly mismanaged from the get go this year:

1)Instead of giving Storen a vote of confidence after his great 2nd half last year (game 5 notwithstanding) they signed a pitcher less talented than he is, gave him barrels of money and handed him the closer's job unchallenged.

2) Kept an inept Henry R. until it became completely untenable.

3) Did not identify and execute consistent bullpen roles causing an erosion of confidence and confusion not to mention down right distension.

I think Rizzo and Davie get get equal responsibility here and matching failing grades.

JD said...

I think Storen knows the level of confidence management has in his abilities (or lack of same) and I think it's critical that he is judged fairly and be given appropriate rope.

It is in everyone's best interests to resurrect Drew's value and confidence.

Doc said...

Thanks for the stats ChiefWJ!

Anonymous said...


I agree with you on #2- they stuck with Henry too long. But I disagree on #1 and #3.

If your psyche is so fragile that you fall apart when you lose your closer job or you can't handle being moved around and used in different spots, you shouldn't be closing in the first place. Mariano Rivera was a setup man to John Wetteland for years, and his team used to go to him in the 8th inning all the time when the situation demanded it, yet somehow he was able to still be effective. Closer to home, Tyler Clippard has been used as a closer, setup man, 7th inning guy and two inning pitcher in his years with the Nats. And he's thrived in every role.

A reliever's only job is to get outs. If he can't do it in the 6th or the 7th or the 13th, I don't want him doing it in the 9th either.

JaneB said...

Welcome back Drew. I wish they'd trotted you out instead of Sori.

SonnyG10 said...

Welcome back Drew!

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