Drew Storen was chosen by the Washington Nationals not long after Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft. He signed almost immediately and got to work to prepare to take on the role of the Nats' closer. In the off-season, he goes back to college to pursue his degree in Mechanical Engineering at one of the best schools in the country on that subject, Stanford University.
During spring training this season, many wondered of Storen had worn himself too thin during the off-season. Baseball's grueling 162 game schedule doesn't leave much time for rest and relaxation, and neither did Storen's off-season of physics, calculus, and engineering in Palo Alto. He struggled during the spring and left some wondering if he would even make the Opening Day roster. Well, he did, and it turned out to be a pretty good thing.
Despite his struggles of late, Storen has been pretty automatic as young closers go, even though he hasn't had many opportunities to come in for a save lately. Bullpen pitchers will tell you that regular pitching is what keeps them consistent, but despite some extended stretches without an opportunity, Storen earned his 36th save on Tuesday night against the New York Mets. He is one of only two players younger than 25 in the National League with more than 30 saves. The other is Craig Kimbrel, the Atlanta Braves closer, who will be a finalist for the NL Rookie of the Year.
Storen is also fifth in Shutdowns among all relievers in baseball with 36, and isn't even in the top 30 in Meltdowns. If you're not familiar with these stats, you'll want to get familiar. They're fascinating to help evaluate a reliever's effectiveness. Learn more about these stats here and here. The four pitchers with more Shutdowns than Storen are Jonny Venters, John Axford, Craig Kimbrel, and the Nationals own Tyler Clippard. Not even Mariano Rivera has shutdown more games than Storen has this season.
Baseball personalities always say that good relievers are a dime a dozen. In some ways, they may be right. Sometimes teams luck out with running into the right player for the right role, but the Nationals drafted Storen for this role, and he looks pretty good at it so far. Here's hoping he has many more years in DC to realize his potential.