The back of the Nationals’ bullpen, namely Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano, has produced some hideous numbers this spring training. Storen has walked six, allowed eight hits and struck out five in 5 2/3 innings. Soriano, the closer who touted his leaner physique upon arrival, has allowed 11 hits and nine earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, though he has also walked none and struck out eight.
Should you worry? Probably not. Spring results deceive across the roster, but no more than for relief pitchers. One rotten outing can ruin everything. They have fewer innings to play with pitches and work on timing. They run on intensity, and spring training games offer none.
This morning, pitching coach Steve McCatty laid out the reasons he has no concerns about Soriano and Storen, who yesterday walked two batters and allowed a missile of a home run to Curtis Granderson. McCatty takes heart that Storen has always had poor numbers in the spring, and that his stuff improves once the season begins.
“Drew is Drew. At times, the ball is going to be elevated,” McCatty said. “We always work on getting it down. But I do see a good breaking ball.
“Not that his velocity has been bad, [but] I’m expecting everything to pick up [once the season begins]. He’s an adrenaline guy. Sori’s the same way. … You take the track record into account. Drew’s one of those guys, he’s an adrenaline junkie. When the season starts, it’s better. Am I concerned? No. Every time somebody has a tough outing, I say, ‘Come on.’ That’s part of his thing. You deal with it.”
The Nationals removed Storen mid-inning yesterday after 17 pitches. They had limited his pitch count to 20 because they scheduled him to throw in a minor league game today, his back-to-back opportunity of the spring. The Nationals had actually planned to have Storen throw consecutive days last week. “In spring training, you start getting that little bit of dead arm,” McCatty said. “So we moved it.”
Because Soriano is an 11-year veteran, McCatty trusts his spring routine. Soriano vowed to improve his breaking ball, which he essentially stopped throwing last year, and he has accomplished that. “His slider has been better,” McCatty said. “He didn’t have it last year.”
“With Sori, I know exactly what Sori is doing when he goes out there in spring training,” McCatty said. “He’s getting his work in to feel good. People say, ‘He sucks, he’s broken.’ Not just Sori, but any particular guy that’s struggling. ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’ You just have to take that into account. That’s the way it is.”