Let’s get this out of the way–
It is ridiculous to judge a baseball team playing a 162-game season after only 12 games. In fact, I advocate completely ignoring the baseball season in the way of stats, standings and record until at least 20 games are under a team’s belt. Maybe more, but to make rash judgements at this time is just silly.
But this is a blog and it needs word porn. So let’s talk about the elephant in the room– Drew Storen.
No Nats fan wants to talk about closer Drew Storen. We don’t. We want to sit there with a hot dog up our noses and beer in our pants pretending all is well and we have at least the third or fourth coming of Mariano Rivera. After blowing the most important game in Nationals history in shocking fashion in the 2012 playoffs we want to believe that Storen spent the off season getting his head together and is ready to redeem himself.
But has he? After such a definitive, career defining moment– has Storen gotten his head around it? As I said at the beginning: I’m an asshole if I judge Storen on just 12 games and a 3.38 ERA so I will give him the benefit of the doubt– but….
I don’t think he has. My gut says so. His face says so when he gives up a play or a run. Storen used to have the look and confidence of a young buck who was deep in the rut and knew he’d have a choice of does. Now, I have a feeling his mind is constantly stained and stuck on that long, cold October night. After a quote like this, how could it not? Associated Press:
“We had it right there, and the most disappointing thing I’ll say is that I just let these guys down,” Storen said. “I know there’s an unbelievable crowd and unbelievable support, but for the amount of adversity we dealt with this year, for it to come down to that was kind of tough.”
Christ. I feel so bad for the kid and so early in his career. But, greatness, legend, “that time” comes even at the most unwanted of times. And he blew it. He absolutely blew it. People remember those who have moments of greatness but equally remember those who shit the bed. Nats fans will always remember Drew Storen and unless he closes the final game of a World Series game or even more important playoff series in the Nats favor, he will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
I can only think of Brad Lidge at times like these and when you think of Brad Lidge you most likely think of Game 5 of the 2005 National League Championship Series where Lidge’s moment came caving in when Albert Pujols mortared a Lidge pitch for an eventual game winning home run when the Astros, relying on Lidge, where one out away from a World Series berth. Gone went the baseball as well as Houston’s last post season dreams of glory, Lidge’s soul and pretty much Lidge’s career. Ever since he really hasn’t gotten back on the horse entirely. The young, naive, closer was scared out of him. I am sure he still wakes up in the middle of the nights in drenching sweats.
Everyone fears the same happened to Storen. Everyone. All of us, even though we pretend to sip the Kool Aid with smiles on our faces and give the kid pats on the back saying, “Next time, killer.” I hate to admit it, but I don’t feel the confidence in Drew Storen right now. I really would rather him not close out games or at least close games at this juncture. Not until he can find his Apollo Creed to hug in the waves. Not until he truly finds his head.
Benching him won’t do anything for him. Like Maverick in ‘Top Gun’ they need to get him back out on the mound as soon as they can after crashing and killing the Goose. But start him small, have him pitch relief in innings of low pressure and against scrub teams. Build up his confidence before he engages the Russians again. I would say maybe a quick trip to Syracuse might do him some good, but I know it will never happen and that might do him more damage than good.
It really is looking like the big problem for Washington this season is going to be the bullpen. The starters are doing alright, the offense is showing up more often than not, but that bullpen with a messed up Drew Storen in it is looking a little exposed. Pitching mechanics can be fixed and tweaked. Head jobs require a little more work.
It is hard working with a mind job. Trust me, I have a staff full of them.