Drew Storen will be promoted to the major leagues tomorrow and join the team in St. Louis. The news was first tweeted by Ken Rosenthal, and later confirmed by the Washington Nationals own Bill Ladson.
Through 12 minor league appearances this season, the 22-year-old former first round draft pick has recorded four saves, posted a 1.12 ERA, and has picked up 15 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. The righty has only allowed three walks. In 2009 he pitched in 28 games, recording 11 saves while posting a 1.95 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched.
The Nationals had originally seemed hell-bent on keeping both Strasburg and Storen in the minors until the date had passed where their Super-Two status would be delayed a year, but it seems after last nights bullpen performance they felt they could wait no longer. The result? Storen becomes arbitration eligible a year earlier than if they had waited a few weeks.
Clearly Storen is, and has been, ready. In 40 minor league appearances the Nationals closer-of-the-future has been dominant at all levels of the minors. His high strikeout rates are a good indicator that he will be able to get major league batters out, and his low walk rate shows that he will be reliable on the mound.
Reliability is something the Nationals have been yearning for in the middle of the bullpen. While Matt Capps and Tyler Clippard have been lights out in the set-up, and closer roles, pitchers they had hoped to pitch in the sixth and seventh innings have been awful.
The most noticeable offender in that category is Brian Bruney. The Nationals brought Bruney in to be a possible closer candidate, but he has struggled to throw strikes and make outs. In 17.2 innings pitched he has allowed 21 hits, and 20 walks with a 7.64 ERA.
It’s a serious possibility that it will be Bruney who is sent down in favor of the young Storen. While Storen will not be brought into the closer or even set-up role, he will play a crucial part in connecting the starting pitching to the back of the bullpen. If he can contribute as many think he can, he will take innings away from the heavy workload of Capps and Clippard, and hopefully, he will make important outs for the Nationals.
Bringing him up before the Super-Two date was a hard decision for the Nationals but ultimately it was the right one. The club is winning now, and their biggest hole is the one Storen can fill in the sixth and seventh inning.