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Drew Storen replaces, saves Stephen Strasburg

Drew Storen had done this many times before. For every minor league game they played together, on all three teams, Storen had always replaced Stephen Strasburg. On Sunday afternoon, for the first time in the majors, Storen, the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft, replaced Strasburg, the first.

"It's funny, because usually in the minor leagues, when somebody would come in the game, the fans would leave," Storen said. "This is one of the few times they stayed."

And they had reason. The Indians trailed 6-1, but they had loaded the bases with one out, threatening to steal a win from the Nationals and spoil Strasburg's second start. Storen, as he so often has in the first weeks of his rookie season, escaped the jam and preserved a lead. He induced a pop up from Russell Branyan and then struck Jhonny Peralta, stranding three runners and saving Strasburg.

Storen and Strasburg comprise the future of the Nationals pitching staff. They have both showed it's coming fast.

"I've seen it this whole time -- when he's put in a pressure situation, he's going to come in there guns blazing, and he gets the job done," Strasburg said. "Nothing really bothers him out there. Any sort of pressure doesn't bother him."

Storen has faced several jams this season, which he said helped him Sunday. Really, he may not have needed the experience. Storen lowered his ERA to 1.54, which may not even represent how valuable he's been. Storen has inherited 12 runners this year. He has allowed none of them to score.

"I enjoy that tight spot, and I was just glad to get out of it," Storen said. "It's been a rapid development. I was in pressure situations right from start. I think I grew a lot from that."

When Storen jogged into the game, the Nationals led by five, but the lead suddenly seemed precarious. Branyan, one of Cleveland's best power hitters, stood at the plate. Storen worked him to a 3-2 count, and Branyan popped up foul, just out of play. Storen came back with another fastball. This time, Branyan popped to shallow right.

After the long battle with Branyan, Storen steamrolled Peralta. He promptly got ahead, 0-2, with a slider and a fastball. Peralta fouled away a pair of pitches, then whiffed at a 96-mph fastball. Peralta flipped his helmet, and the Nationals walked off the field imbued with confidence.

Afterward, shortstop Ian Desmond was asked if Strasburg had served as a stopper for the Nationals, who broke a two-game skid. "If I were going to give somebody the title of 'stopper' today," Desmond said, "I'd give it to Storen."

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 13, 2010; 7:09 PM ET
Categories:  Drew Storen  
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Next: The Nationals are feeding off Stephen Strasburg

Comments

Ian Desmond is a stud.

Posted by: markfromark | June 13, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Its really a shame Storen couldn't wait and become a starter he truly would have been a stopper. Solve a lot of the current rotation problems even with Strasburg in it.

But I guess a closer / setup / fireman out of the bullpen is just as important.

Posted by: periculum | June 13, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Right field today: 3 for 4 3 RBI and a home run.

Posted by: periculum | June 13, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Bernadina 117 AB 6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 18 RBI, .282/.351/.796
Morse 26 AB 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .423/.516/1.093

The only 'right field' problem is in Riggleman's mind when he pulled these two guys in favor of Guzman, Maxwell, or Harris. If right field isn't the problem, then perhaps Riggleman is.

Posted by: periculum | June 13, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Great game today. My only question would be why Riggs wants to pull Morse out of the games so early the time. He really can't wait to get him outta there. What did Morse do to him anyway? I'd love to see Berni in CF and Morse in RF but that aint gonna happen. Again, good win today. But Riggs should apologize to the team for costing them the two previous games with his absurd lineups.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 13, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

i agree. willingham, berndaddy, and morse are my starting outfield.

nyjer can be defensive replacement/pinch runner for awhile. desmond can hit second and either guzman or kennedy can lead off.

Posted by: longterm | June 13, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey longterm I'm Berndaddy, he's just Bernie... ;)

Posted by: Berndaddy | June 13, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I wonder whether it was the condition of the mound or the baserunners that bothered Strasburg today. My guess is the Strasburg will have chewed-up mounds when he pitches outside of Washington, probably starting in Detroit on Friday.

It seems to me that Strasburg was less effective in his first start when he had a baserunner; today he seemed to have lost his control when there were runners-on-base.

Strasburg really looks great. He looks like he could win the vast majority of the games he pitches.

Posted by: esch | June 13, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Good grief as Charlie Brown used to say everyone is ready to push Nyjer overboard can we wait until the all-star break let Nyjer work on some things and then give him some time hey last year we all loved this guy his enthusiasm,his glove, and his ability to change the game when he was on base. I'd love to hear Ray Knight's assesment of Morgan and his struggles every baseball player has slumped i say give this guy a chance to straighten himself out.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 13, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman is a joke. He reminds me of Glen Hanlon, the former Capital's coach who had a losing record with Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green and Semin in the lineup, before Bruce Boudreau replace him and promptly has a .701 winning record with the same talent. Talent will only get a coach so far, he still has to know what to do with it and so far, Riggleman has shown he has very little coaching ability.

Posted by: JohnWWW | June 13, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone wants Morgan pushed completely overboard... but he certainly is struggling, both at the plate, on the bases and in the field... I would advocate splitting the playing time a little more evenly in CF and RF between Morgan, Bernie and Morse for the time being... and if Morgan steps up again and starts to hit and run, great, because we can use that at the top of our lineup... but if Bernie and Morse hit and Morgan doesn't, well, there should be no reason to feel obligated to give Morgan 600 at bats this year if he isn't performing (he is on pace for over 600 at bats right now!)...

He was electric last year in his 200 at bat audition with the Nats in 2009, but he is NOT a proven every day major league outfielder, before last year he never had gotten more then 160 ABs in a season and he will be 30 in just a few weeks, which is middle aged for MLB... he has well more ABs this year hitting at a .249 clip (.313 OBP!) then he did last year with the Nats when he was blowing up...

I love the guy, and we all know he can be a catalyst at the top of the lineup if he gets going... but even more then Nyger, I love seeing the Nats playing winning baseball, and if Bernie and Morse are hitting and Morgan isn't, well, duh... let Morgan be the 4th OF off the bench, he'll still be a quality player that can contribute significantly in that role...

Posted by: Ghost7 | June 13, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, but I bet he knows how to use apostrophes and write a coherent sentence. So it evens out.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 13, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

"He" being Riggleman, there. I have no opinion on Tony Plush's language skills.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 13, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

JohnWWW: Jim Riggleman has made me stratch my head several times this year with some of his moves especially with the pitching staff as far as talent is concerned well i'm not gonna touch that one for now,but losing two of three to the Acta's is inexcusable and running himself out of potential big innings in friday's game was just plain dumb and to be truthfull Acta staff outscouted Riggleman people and i'm gonna say this one more time who in the name of Paul Cassonova is this first base coach named Radison his only claim to fame i see is getting nationals thrown out on attempted steals on a routine basis.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 13, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Riggs was (and is) a third-rate guy tapped for a last-place hundred-loss team when Manny "had to go". Now that the team is for real, maybe we can get a real manager.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | June 13, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

It's GREAT to have an actual fireman for a change. Storen is GREAT, and the perfect complement to Strasburg.

When Olsen, Wang, Detwiler, Marquis and Zimmermann get off the DL we're going to have a pretty good staff even if only half of them pan out.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | June 14, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I said it when Acta was still here: I don't know that a manager makes that much of difference over the long haul, but, good lord, Riggs is getting the short end of the stick from some of us.

He took over a team with horrid record, and it played respectably for him. This year, with a similar cast of characters, prior to the arrival of DS and SS, this 100-loss squad has kept itself right around .500.

It's part of the fun of baseball to second guess the manager (I do it, too), but rather than dump on him, I'm sure folks everywhere else think he's a manager of the year candidate.

Being a DC-area guy, Riggs deserves at least a little bit of slack from everybody. And I think he's earned more than that.

Posted by: nats24 | June 14, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

FergusonFoont,

Problem is we don't know when these other pitchers will get off the DL--except for Detwiler, does not look imminent for any of them. And wasn't Dibs talking about problems with Detwiler's delivery yesterday? He's hardly money in the bank. For the foreseeable future, bottom three of rotation is Lannan, Atilano, and Martin (or Stammen or Chico or some other soft tosser/AAAA pitcher from Syracuse). Yikes.

BTW, Strasburg just tied Lannan with 22 Ks for the season yesterday.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 14, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Those of you critical of Rigglemans managerial moves and use of his roster have an overly optimistic view of the talent level on this team. He's done a very good job I think of getting the most out of an average at best lineup. This team has vastly over performed this season and going forward it will be up to Nats management as to whether or not they will continue to plan for the future (which is NOT NOW) and make some moves that give him some talent to work with. I'm glad Dunn and Willingham are heating up - it will make for some attractive trade option come the end of the month.

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 14, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

CapPeterson1: This staff scares no one with the exception of SS,other then the before mentioned phenom Livo is the only real pitcher we have, Lannan's all right i guess but the rest, Marquis,Wang, Detweiler, and Olsen none of those chump's can stay off the DL long enough to make an impact i'm also wondering why Sharon Martis hasn't been called up for another shot hell he can't be any worse than the others at least he stay's healthy.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 14, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I like Nyjer Morgan (good speed, range, and makes contact at the plate,) but he needs to hit a freaking cutoff man on occasion. He simply doesn't have the arm to gun someone down at the plate, but seems to think he does.

Didn't anyone coach him up in Little League?

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | June 14, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Riggs is doing a fine job. This team was terrible last year, and now they are playing .500 ball. If the Redskins or Wizards could even sniff at .500 people would be singing their coaches praises for turning the clubs around.

Having said that. Has anyone else noticed that the Nationals are still well below .500 in the runs scored/allowed ratio? That (to me) tells where they will be headed after the all-star break. We've seen this kind of fool's gold before.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | June 14, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Riggleman is a good manager, but he's learning a little on the job

doing a much, MUCH better job than trembley was in any case...

Posted by: cotelloer | June 14, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I'd like to see the right field situation situation resolved but I don't see that as the biggest problem. The terrible defense and thin starting pitching are biggers concerns. Plus the bullpen has a couple of big holes -- Walker and Batista can't be counted on even with a lead. Plus there are times when the team seems to have no spark. However it is June 15, they are two games under .500 and Strasburg and Storen are performing the way we expected. Not a bad outcome for a 100+ loss team.

Posted by: Natmeister | June 14, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@ProfessorWright - Currently the Nats RS/RA is 279 to 298 (-19), but if you throw out Bruney, Bergmann, and Marquis (our bottom three pitchers, in terms of ERA) who gave up 42 runs in only 28 IP, we are at a much healthier ratio of 279 to 256 (+23).

BTW...Cincinnati has given up 300 runs and is in 1st place in a much weaker Central

Posted by: shemples | June 14, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Bernadina, Morse & Morgan should be splitting time equally in CF-RF.

Posted by: shanks1 | June 14, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes! These guys are great! What a difference a year makes. Don't worry folks, they'll figure out the 7-8-9's. Pasitos.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 14, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

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