Blue Jays Drew Storen set to thrive off regularity
Blue Jays reliever Drew Storen opens his career in Toronto looking to thrive within a stable role after years of unpredictability in Washington
Drew Storen didn’t always get a fair shake with the Washington Nationals.
Now a headliner of the sneaky-good Toronto Blue Jays bullpen, the 28-year-old is looking to flourish once again with a more stable and defined role.
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As he enters camp in competition with Roberto Osuna for the closer’s job, however, Storen insists that he can exist happily outside of the ninth inning. “I haven’t talked to anyone and, honestly, I don’t even care,” Storen told Richard Griffin of The Star. “I’m just trying to fit in, do my thing. I’ve been around long enough to know that role doesn’t really make a bullpen. It’s such a group effort down there.
In 2015, Storen was elite. For a while.
Up until the Nationals acquired choke-artist Jonathan Papelbon on July 28th, Storen had recorded a 1.73 ERA, striking out 44 batters in just 36.1 innings while earning 29 saves.
After Papelbon? A 6.75 ERA with a pair of blown saves.
This was familiar for Storen, too, who pitched very well in 2011 and 2012 only to be bumped from the closer’s role by offseason signing Rafael Soriano following his playoff meltdown in Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series.
“When Soriano came in, I tried not to give up a hit the whole season and barely got anybody out,” Storen told ESPN’s Britt McHenry. “So that’s what I learned, to not overthink what you can’t control, and that’s the approach I tried to have last year.”
In Toronto, manager John Gibbons should be a very comfortable fit for Storen and his history of thriving when working in an understood role. For Gibbons, giving too long a leash or going back to the well one too many times has often been a contentious point among local fans.
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Just as Storen continues to reference the Jays bullpen as a group effort, Gibbons and general manager Ross Atkins will need to determine which course of action with Storen and Osuna will create the greatest collective group of talent.
Seeing Storen open as the closer with Osuna operating in a one-plus inning high-leverage role seems very possible at this time, but if the other five spots in the bullpen fill in with high-ceiling options, the closer’s competition will become even cloudier. For now, that is just fine.
Come opening day, however, Storen can rest assured that roles will be established, and that no Blue Jays closer will lose his job with a sub-2.00 ERA and 29 saves in late July.