Drew Storen’s night was so quick you were liable to miss it. He needed only four pitches (yes, four) to get three outs in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. He threw his tailing hard sinker at Atlanta batters and they couldn’t resist. All three fell victim to it: Dan Uggla grounding out to third base, Brian McCann and Juan Francisco getting under it and flying out to center field.
This is the Storen that Manager Davey Johnson wants to see and, frankly, the Nationals need. The night before, Storen needed 20 pitches to toss a scoreless eighth inning but not without some trouble, allowing a single and walking a batter. His pitches showed tremendous movement, but he missed with his slider, and his body language showed a struggle. On Tuesday, however, he harnessed his command better and attacked batters instead.
“The last two or three times out it looked like he’d been trying to become a breaking ball pitcher and it wasn’t a very good-looking breaking ball, either,” Johnson said. “Today he just said, here, hit it. I like that. That’s a guy that saved 43 games for us.”
Storen’s season so far has been filled by highs and lows. He is trying to find consistency since returning last month after missing 89 games with April elbow surgery. For the past two weeks, he has alternated between dominating quick innings and inefficient ones. It’s just a matter of finding the middle ground each time out. When he does, he will help alleviate the workload on his teammates.
“Everything is getting there,” he said on Sunday. “It’s a step forward every day. Physically I feel great. It’s a roller coaster ride. You’re going to have your good outings, you’re going to have your bad. But it’s kind of a matter of steadying everything and I think I am.”
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