Last night The Blue Jays made their biggest move so far this offseason. Jays From the Couch gives you an in-depth look at their newly acquired pitcher, along with some positives and negatives about the trade.
Late Friday night January 8th 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays made their biggest offseason move, trading left fielder Ben Revere for Washington Nationals relief pitcher/closer Drew Storen. With the Blue Jays having organizational depth in the outfield, addressing the bullpen was something that was a major priority. With Spring Training only being fifty-two days away, (couldn’t come any quicker) we will quickly see where the newly shifted pieces are going to fit within the roster. This trade improves much needed bullpen depth, but still leaves us with some lingering questions.
Drew Storen was drafted in the late rounds of the 2007 Draft by the New York Yankees, but Storen wouldn’t sign with the Yankees, deciding rather to pitch two seasons at Stanford. After two very impressive years at Stanford, Storen was seen as a highly talented relief pitcher, being drafted by the Washington National 10th overall in the 2009 draft. It wouldn’t take Storen very long to reach the Majors, pitching only 52.5IP in four different levels of Minor League ball.
At 28 years old, Storen is entering the prime years of his career. After a big 2014, that would see Storen post a 1.12ERA in 56.1 innings of work, in 2015 he would be put back into the closer position replacing Rafael Soriano. In the first half of the 2015 season, Storen would pick right up from where he left off in 2014, pitching to a 1.64ERA, with 29SV in 40 appearances out of the pen. In a reward for his great play… the Nationals would trade for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Storen would struggle down the stretch of his 2015 in the setup role pitching to a 5.82ERA in the second half, eventually ending his season by breaking his thumb when he slammed his locker door in frustration.
Storen gets it done with with four solid pitches. (Fourseam Fastball which average velocity is 94.1VFA and sometimes can touch up to 98mpg, Slider, Sinker, and Changeup) Storen has made significant mechanics changes since joining the MLB, and isn’t afraid of mixing his usage of pitches in different years. One common trend in Storen’s game is his increased usage of his Slider every year, becoming his most used pitch in 2015 (35.1% in 2015 compared to 28.5% in 2014). For any pitcher who throws a Slider in the MLB, Storen’s Slider has the most horizontal movement in the entire league, 8.3” across the strike zone. The efficiency in Storen’s Slider not only had a 4.9wSL, but most likely contributed to his career high 10.96K/9 in 2015, and righty batters only hitting .146AVG against him. With his pitch usage changing every year, who knows what Storen’s dominate pitch will be next year with the Blue Jays, but his ability to reinvent and adapt shows a lot of promise.
Like most trades there are both positives and negatives. When thinking deep about, it really does seem like the Blue Jays won this one. The positives – Storen is a very established closer, who’s not going to cost the Blue Jays massive amounts of money, not what most closers have been paid in past years. I wrote an article yesterday about the potential of Jesse Chavez becoming the fifth starter on the roster, if Chavez doesn’t work out in a starting spot, the options remain to be Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, and Drew Hutchison. If the Jays decide to remove either Sanchez or Osuna, replacing that back of the pen pitcher is no problem when you have Storen to insert.
The negative, Ben Revere was the prototypical leadoff hitter, leaving the Jays without many options in that position. Troy Tulowitzki was clearly uncomfortable leading off, Kevin Pillar boasts a below league average OBP. With the absence of Devon Travis in the first month due to surgery, it would make sense to insert Dalton Pompey in the leadoff spot and LF for the meantime. This would all be contingent upon Dalton being able to produce at the plate, but his speed and defensive prowess is something the Blue Jays could use in their lineup. If Pompey doesn’t work out, Michael Saunders could go back to playing LF, Travis would come back to leading off and playing second.
A lot of the pieces still need to be shuffled around. Even before Alex Anthopoulos left, he hinted that, Saunders was going to be the left fielder in 2016, leaving us to believe that Revere was going to get traded regardless. The question of Saunders or Revere has been answered! The addition of Drew Storen is a great addition for the Blue Jays, and a sign that the new front office regime of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins aren’t afraid to make big moves.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison-flickr-CreativeCommons
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Spencer Redmond is a Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. His loves in life are the NBA, MLB, Stats, and his dog Parker.