Johnson decided Storen needed work, no matter the situation, and so Storen entered Friday with the Nationals trailing, 4-1. His performance inspired little confidence. Storen allowed a triple and two solo homers, three runs in all, to push his season ERA to 7.11 in 61
Pitching coach Steve McCatty chalked up Storen’s performance as “a function that he didn’t pitch in seven days.” But he also said Storen needed to locate the ball better.
“As far as the location of those pitches that were hit out last night, they were center-cut,” McCatty said Saturday. “They were right down the middle, where they’re not supposed to be. You can’t throw those pitches. He was trying, but he didn’t get it there.
“You should be able to locate the ball. Divide the plate up to thirds. To be successful, you better be able to hit the inside third or the outside third, or miss off and not over the middle. He got a couple balls over the middle. Drew has always been a grip-it-and-rip-it kind of guy. He left it where they could hit it.”
Storen’s rough night continued a discouraging beginning for the Nationals’ bullpen. Until allowing only one run in five innings in Saturday’s 7-6 win over the Mets, their 5.70 ERA ranked last in the majors. Johnson has been trying to find consistent roles for his relievers, all of whom are taking on new roles after the addition of closer Rafael Soriano.
“I’ve got some work to do, and so do they,” Johnson said. “We’re not quite there yet.”
For one day, Storen may return to his old closer’s role. Soriano will remain in New York on paternity leave and miss Monday’s game against the Cardinals.
Soriano plans to only miss one game, but players are allowed to miss up to three on paternity leave. Johnson said he does not know if the Nationals will summon a pitcher from Class AAA Syracuse to take Soriano’s place Monday.
— Adam Kilgore