Monday, September 20, 2010

Drew Storen: Closer of Now or of the Future?

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Surely there will be story after story about Drew Storen's blown save on Sunday against the Phillies.  In this save situation, Storen failed to record a single out, giving up 4 runs on 4 hits.  The last hit was a 2 run homer to Jayson Werth.  It was a walk off to end the game.  It was Storen's 2nd blown save in just 6 tries this year.  So what?

The fact of the matters is, Drew Storen is 23... and he just turned 23 in August.  He's also a rookie.  Prior to Sunday afternoon's breakdown, Storen hadn't given up a run in 6 appearances.  But one bad outing will get people talking: "What if Storen isn't the real deal?" or "What if he's too young? Can he handle the pressure?"

The job of closer is almost entirely a mental game.  There's no difference than a bullpen guy recording 3 outs in the 7th inning and a bullpen guy recording 3 outs in the 9th inning.  Except the guy in the 9th inning is given the title of "closer," he earns a special designation (the save) to be able to put a game away, and if he blows it... there's not minced words.  He gets a "blown save."  I think I'd rather just get a loss than a "blown save."  Anywho, the difference is... can a guy recover after blowing a save?  That is what makes the difference between a closer and a good middle reliever, after all.

Things to remember:

  • Once again, Drew Storen is 23, and a rookie.
  • Storen was facing one of the best offensive lineups in the National League.  A lineup that many call "an AL lineup in the NL" because one would struggle to find a single weak link in the 1-8 spots.
  • In the 9th, Storen faced Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth.  This is probably the best 2-5 in the NL.
  • Finally, Drew Storen is 23, and a rookie.

Drew Storen will have more games like this, but he will have many more where he sets the opposition down in order in the 9th inning, earning his save and his closer title.  In the mean time, look for Manager Jim Riggleman to stick with his rookie closer.  He knows he has some guys behind him that could fill the role, but in a lost season, you want to give your young guy every opportunity to prove that he has the "mental makeup" to save a baseball game.

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