Nationals closer Drew Storen is not the most egregious omission to the National League All-Star Game team’s pitching staff, which was announced Monday evening. Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, a final vote candidate, probably qualifies as the most noticeable snub. But “snub” certainly describes Storen, too.
All-star rosters shuffle frequently, as injuries and unavailable starting pitchers clear roster spots. Maybe Storen will make the team as the roster fluctuates over the next week. But of the five players vying for fan votes over the next week to make the team via the final vote, four are pitchers, and one of them — Mets star Jeurys Familia — is a reliever. Storen is not among them. His place on that unofficial NL wait list, then, may not be a promising one.
“It’s disappointing. I’ll be honest, who doesn’t want to be on the all-star team?” Storen said. “But I’m extremely happy with my performance this first half, and I think on a bigger scale that’s more important than anything else. I’d rather be disappointed in that than disappointed in my performance.”
Storen’s numbers match up favorably with those relievers who made the roster. The right-hander is second in baseball with 25 saves, in the midst of what is probably his best and most important season. He leads the major leagues in one-run saves (12) — a complicated stat that measures saves earned that preserve a one-run lead — two more than any other closer entering Monday night.
National League Manager Bruce Bochy selected eight starting pitchers and five relievers — the five being Aroldis Chapman, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Papelbon, Trevor Rosenthal and Mark Melancon. Rodriguez and Papelbon are the only representatives from their teams. Of those relievers, only Chapman (16 saves) and Rodriguez (18 saves) are striking out more batters per nine innings than Storen. Only Chapman has a lower FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) — Storen’s is 2.02, Chapman’s 1.78. Only Rodriguez has a lower WHIP than Storen’s 0.97.
In other words, he would not be out of place in the National League all-star bullpen.
Washington Manager Matt Williams said Monday he did not have a chance to talk to Bochy over the weekend, no opportunity to make a case for Storen or the other Nationals all-stars. But Williams made his opinion clear: “If there’s an opportunity, I’d like to see [Drew] go.”
“I think Drew’s had a fantastic first half. He’s leading baseball in one-run saves, and that says something. That says something about his capabilities when he steps in there in the ninth inning,” Williams said. “The unfortunate part about the All-Star Game every year is that there are only a certain number of guys that can go. But you never know.”
Storen has been the most reliable force in an inconsistent Nationals bullpen, a steady veteran presence in a group that features several different faces from last season. His numbers, which stack up just fine now, might even be better if it weren’t for a meaningless outing in Tampa.
Having not pitched much during the first two weeks in June, Storen came in to pitch the ninth inning of a 16-1 battering of the Rays. He allowed a three-run homer. With that outing, he has a 1.97 ERA. Without it — and this may seem like a useless what-if statistic but provides a better measure of his actual performance — Storen would be pitching to a 1.16 ERA. At the time the roster was named Monday, that would have been the second-lowest reliever’s ERA in the majors, tied with Familia behind Rosenthal’s 0.70.
“To even be considered is great,” Storen said. “We’ve got a lot of good closers, lot of good bullpen guys in this league. To be thrown around with those names is a good thing.”
IN THE POST
Max Scherzer was named to the 2015 National League all-star team Monday his third career selection.
IN THE JOURNAL
Denard Span and Yunel Escobar left Monday’s game early with back spasms and left hamstring tightness, respectively.
The Nationals placed reliever David Carpenter on paternity list for the birth of his first child.
NATIONALS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 3, Pawtucket 2: Joe Ross threw fives scoreless innings and struck out four and Trea Turner went 3 for 4 to lift the Chiefs.
Harrisburg 3, Altoona 0: Dakota Bacus threw eight scoreless innings and struck out four as Wilmer Difo went 3 for 5 with two runs batted in to lead the Senators.
Wilmington 1, Potomac 0 (10): Rehabbing Aaron Barrett started the game by striking out the side in the first, then Lucas Giolito threw six scoreless innings and struck out 10 before rain delayed the game and ended his outing. Wilmington got a run in the top of the 10th to win it. Second baseman Adrian Sanchez had two hits for Potomac.
Lakewood 5, Hagerstown 3: Though he struck out six in six innings, Drew Van Orden allowed three runs on seven hits and Sam Johns allowed another run in relief to doom the Suns. Osvaldo Abreu and Diomedes Eusebio had two hits each for Hagerstown.
State College 9, Auburn 7: Mariano Rivera III allowed three runs in three innings in his first professional start and McKenzie Mills earned three earned runs in relief to take the loss. Andrew Stevenson drove in two runs and Randy Encarnacion drove in three.